British conductor Philip Ledger is perhaps best known for his tenure as Director of Music at King's College, Cambridge (a position in which he followed David Willcocks and was succeeded by Stephen Cleobury), but he has also composed a number of choral works throughout his career, and this CD brings together over a dozen of his anthems and carols, along with his largest work, Requiem ("A thanksgiving for life"), written in 2007. Ledger's style is closer to that of British composers of earlier generations than to his contemporaries like John Rutter. In fact, his entirely tonal language in the Requiem is only rarely more adventurous than that of John Stainer, who was born a century before him. Taken on its own terms, much of Ledger's music is conventionally pretty, but it's seldom memorable, and there are moments of awkwardness in his writing that betray his lack of compositional experience, particularly in the Requiem. He is more successful in more modest works, like his carols, which frequently have real lyric charm. The composer leads the Choir of Christ's College in a chaste performance of the Requiem, and David Rowland leads the group in the anthems and carols. The sound is clean and warm. The album should be of most interest to fans of early to late Romantic British church music.
Requiem: Choral Works by Sir Philip Ledger Review
by Stephen Eddins