This release from the St. Salvator's Chapel Choir at Scotland's St. Andrews University covers well over a century of music, from diverse locales, some of it dating from before the career of Henry Purcell. So the title may seem an unsupportable claim, especially since Handel doesn't fit what pattern there is (the composers mostly fall into a chain of teacher-student relationships). But there's some enjoyable and little-known music here that will appeal to any lover of the English school. The three-part anthem Hear me, O God of William Jackson, indeed, was discovered in a university archive and here receives its world premiere. Jackson seems to have divined the roots of the Classical style at a site quite remote from its roots, and the work is sunny and infectious. The entire program lightens as it goes, proceeding from the somber O Lord my God, why hast thou forsaken me of Pelham Humfrey, who died even younger than Purcell did and influenced him heavily. Composers known mostly for their instrumental music, Jeremiah Clarke, William Boyce, and Maurice Greene, are here represented by vocal works that would have gained recognition in their own lifetimes, and the sounds of the young choristers, imperfect but very well suited to the music, constitute an X factor in the album's favor. So too does the sound, recorded not at the choir's home chapel, but at a small parish church that emphasizes the workaday quality of some of the music. Well worth the time and money of English music collectors.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Hear me O God|