1 Nov 2011

Morrow, Munrow and Medieval Music: Understanding their influences and practice

First presented as The Margot Leigh Milner Lecture 2010
Published in Early Music Performer
Editor: Dr Andrew Woolley. 

November 2011

‘Do you feel somehow something that you began with Musica Reservata has somehow been leapt upon by practically everyone else in sight?’ asked Tony Palmer in aninterview for LBC radio in the mid-1970s. ‘Well I suppose one can’t really say things like that, [pause] but in fact I do!’ replied Michael Morrow.1 Did Tony Palmer or Michael Morrow have David Munrow in mind during that exchange? If either of them were thinking of Munrow it should not have come as a surprise because he was, at that time, the other towering figure on the English Early Music scene. But does this candid exchange accurately represent the situation between two of the BBC’s most prolific early music specialists of the early 1970s? A quick glance through the concert programming of the ensembles directed by these two men certainly suggests that Munrow was influenced by his work as a performer in Musica Reservata, and this experience is heavily reflected his choice of music with his own ensemble, The Early Music Consort of London. However, one must remember that the medieval repertoire is not large, and neither was it, in the 1970s, very easy to obtain in modern editions. A certain level of mutual influence is only to be expected. However it may have arisen, such overlap provides a fertile ground for the comparison of performance practice, and my intention here is to attempt to open just such a discussion.

For the full text of this article please refer to:
EMP (Early Music Performer) Issue 29,  November 2011 

A twice-yearly journal edited by Dr Andrew Woolley, containing features and articles of special interest to practical musicians, both amateur and professional. It also contains a wide-ranging list of recent journal articles dealing with issues related to performance practice.

2 Aug 2011

Bach: Partitas; Chopin: Preludes

Originally written for musicalcriticism.com
02 August 2011

In this post-authenticity period piano-Bach has become something of a passion of mine. This second album from Icelandic pianist, Víkingur Ólafsson, on the indie label Hands on Music/Dirrindí, is sure to intrigue and delight a wide audience.

Bach and Chopin make for a great programme, and this one is elegantly introduced by Ólafsson in his liner notes and rests on several connections between the two men. Firstly, and most obviously is that Chopin was a great admirer of Bach; he played and studied Bach's music throughout his life and even took it with him to Mallorca during convalescence whilst he was writing his own 24 preludes. More than that though, the polyphonic nature of Bach's music infuses Chopin's own style and, as Ólafsson puts it, 'Even with all its abundance of inspired melodies, Chopin's music is always contrapuntal: even the simplest melodic accompaniments are elevated to refined organisms of polyphonic complexity.'

In performance terms Ólafsson finds more intimate connections between the works of these two great composers through the 'singing tone' of inner voices as much as the melodic content. This, I think, is the holy grail of all Bach pianists: the balancing of textures on the modern piano. Ólafsson skilfully avoids the usual pitfalls, namely playing Bach in an overly crisp or minimally phrased way as if emulating a harpsichord or worse, smudging the texture and just bringing fugal entries to the foreground before drowning them in the homogeneous mush of the sustain pedal after just a few notes. Here, thankfully, Ólafsson keeps his texture clear and opts for a touch which sings.

The refreshing nature of Bach's Preludes affords a perfect calm before the storm of Chopin's magisterial Preludes. Having spend many years listening to the recordings of theseses exactly what he preaches with inner voices afforded an impressive illumination so that each Prelude truly is a 'refined organism of polyphonic complexity'. In places he chooses faster tempi that I would normally like – the famous A-flat major prelude (No. 17), for example, could maybe benefit from a more indulgent pace – but such decisions are, I suspect, the reason why his disc flows so well. Ólafsson really convinces the listener that these preludes belong together, making for a spectacular programme.

Beautifully recorded in Mendelssohn Hall, Gewandhaus, Leipzig this disc is well worth seeking out by fans of either the Bach or Chopin camp and Ólafsson is surely a pianist to listen out for.

Víkingur Ólafsson (piano) Hands on Music/Dirrindí

Handel in Ireland

Originally written for musicalcriticism.com
02 August 2011

Bridget Cunningham's first solo harpsichord album is her second disc on the young Rose Street Records label to explore early Irish themes, this time through Handel's stay in Ireland from 1741 to 1742. The programme is built around two works by Handel, a keyboard arrangement, probably his own, of the overture to Esther and the seventh suite in G minor. There is are also a suite by Roseingrave, a Sonatina by Carter, and two virtuosic arrangements of arias from Handel's Rinaldo by Babell. The disc finishes with two bonus tracks of Irish folk tunes known to Handel, one of which he wrote one out in his Messiah manuscript and which is previously unrecorded.

The disc begins with Babell's reworking of Vo far Guerra, which, to the best of my knowledge, remains unpublished and which Cunningham plays directly from a facsimile of the manuscript. It is an astonishing thirteen minutes long, which, when you consider the original aria is about five minutes, gives some indication of just what is meant by 'virtuosic'. Despite its length, no one could accuse Cunningham of playing slowly, far from it: technically she is dazzling, passing through the many arpeggiated passages and cadenzas with seeming ease. There is humour in this arrangement and in Cunningham's performance too; his huge chords at about 6'30" and her timing of the various sections leave the listener with the impression that this is a celebration of a much-admired aria rather than a simply showy arrangement.

This first track sets a precedent for the whole album which could be summed up as a heady cocktail of fondness and resonance. These are clearly much-loved works which Cunningham communicates in the care she takes over her performance, but, more than that, her playing really makes the harpsichord sing. This is particularly noticeable in Handel's seventh suite, the Allegro of which she plays with the manuals coupled. So many times one hears lumpen and awkward performances of such busy music, but not here, the resonance of her playing, the instrument and the recording combine to capture that illusive 'singing tone'. Magical.

Cunningham plays a double manual Blanchet copy of Ruckers by Wooderson 1996 and a double manual Blanchet copy by Goble 1988. The bonus track 'Aileen Aroon', which one famous anecdote relates that Handel wished he had composed, also includes a baroque harp made by Waghorn. The booklet draws on her published research into Handel's period in Ireland.

Bridget Cunningham (Rose Street RSR 002)

30 May 2011

Philipp Schoendorff: The Complete Works

Originally written for musicalcriticism.com
30 May 2011

Cinquecento are once again brilliant, sensitive and convincing. And yet their sixth album poses a delightful problem: that they appear to have the Midas touch with renaissance vocal polyphony somewhat complicates the ease with which we can form an opinion about the quality of the compositions they perform. As this ensemble continue to mine the lesser-known recesses of the sixteenth century, it is left to us listeners to probe beyond their beautiful performances and decide for ourselves if this music is merely formulaic mush, or the works of a composer that deserve to be remembered.

Musicologists, and indeed critics, are notoriously reluctant to discuss quality in early music. Even when we do have value judgments from contemporary writers it is hard for us to map them on to the works in question, as too often lines of argument are enmeshed in concepts and contemporary beliefs drawn from their own understanding of the ancient world. Period taste, as it were, looks set to remain just that: period.

Turning from issues of quality towards those of quantity, evidence for Schoendorff’s status as a ‘minor composer’ in his own day is rather obvious, even if I do dislike the term; his output is small. There are just two masses, a magnificat and a handful of motets that, considering his 30 years at the imperial court, suggests the three Kings were not beating a path to his door to beg for more works. Is it going to far to suggest that on this basis alone Schoendorff was just a trumpet player from Liège with more technique than inspiration? Well actually I think that would be jumping to a hasty (and wrong) conclusion.

The complicating factor is that Schoendorff’s short life occupies a problematic period for the Habsburgs. When Maximilian II died in 1576 his power transferred to his son, Rudolf II, who kept on his father’s musicians under the guidance of the much-respected Philippe de Monte. Within years, de Monte was in poor health and considering resignation. His court musicians were not only restricted by the developments of the Council of Trent but also with Rudolf’s disinterest in long elaborate service music. Had times been different, who knows how a figure like Schendorff may have flourished?  As it is, the music that he did write, although necessarily brief, suggests a healthy interest in career progression, since his 1587 Missa super La dolce Vista is both dedicated to his monarch and parodies one of his boss’s own Italian madrigals. Double flattery if you like.

On this recording, de Monte’s original madrigal is sung with a light and reflective character which is at once fond yet knowing. The subtle eroticism of “…dying for her a thousand times each day”, is not lost in either de Monte’s setting or in Cinquecento’s performance. The mass they sing with much more authority, providing a pleasing and subtle contrast. It is a short setting, much more so than de Monte’s own parody of the same material. The syllabic nature of Schoendorff’s score and use of the six voices in groups of two, three or four allows for some telescoping of the text as phrases overlap. This suits Cinquecento’s careful style and offers a chance for the listener to enjoy the individual quality of the voices as they appear in differing combinations.

In de Monte’s setting of Usqueqo Domine oblivisceris me? it is suggested that we hear something of the older composer’s discontent both in his choice of psalm 12 (How long Lord, will you forget me, forever?) and in his plaintive, pleading setting. Cinquecento make a larger, fatter sound in this music, which feels particularly expressive, and they display an enviable ‘nose’ for those many subtle madrigalian traits that are characteristic of de Monte’s polyphony.

Schoendorff’s mass setting of this motet is, surprisingly, bigger and less efficient than his Missa super La dolce vista. In many ways this more indulgent style suggests that Schoendorff had the ability to go much further as a composer had he wished. The expressive use of homophony is particularly skilfully executed by Cinquecento.

With a Magnificat and two other motets to hear it turns out that Schoendorff is well worth the discovery, as are Cinquecento if you haven’t already.  This is an album well worth looking out for and with such a great repertoire to explore there will be plenty of opportunity to hear more of this ensemble in future I hope.

Cinquecento (Hyperion CDA67854)

26 May 2011

Celebrating the King James Bible at 400

Originally written for Gramophone magazine
26 may 2011

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, a work that took 47 scholars seven years to translate from the Greek (for the New Testament) and from the Hebrew (for the Old). As a work of literature, the King James Bible stands on a par with the greatest works of the English language, and it has inspired millions of people down the ages, including numerous musicians. Ed Breen reflects on its remarkable power to draw extraordinarily powerful music from the composers who set it. 

Celebrating the King James Bible may for many musicians feel like a slightly tangential event, but to those of us who grew up as cathedral choirboys it holds special significance as the language of many anthems that we sang long before we knew what the words meant and which first persuaded us into a life of music. Yet we are all influenced by the King James Bible whether or not we know it; one of my students commented recently that certain composers were ‘a law unto themselves’ and I’m pretty sure she has never read the bible. Indeed one can find many examples in casual speech just like this, but not all such cherished biblical English is solely due to the King James Version; there is also an enormous debt to earlier translations and, in particular, the work of William Tyndale. But at what point did the King James Version itself start to infuse the musical world?

To read the full article, please follow this link:


7 May 2011

Francisco Guerrero: The Angel's Voice

Originally written for musicalcriticism.com
07 May 2011

Far from being a just another cutesy title, The Angel's Voice explores a wealth of music written for upper voices by the Spanish composer Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599). These compositions depart from the traditional 4-voice cantus-altus-tenor-bassus texture and use modern SAT voices and even those scored ad aequales, for equal voices. Reasons for writing in upper registers (and indeed lower ones too) in the sixteenth century can vary from a pragmatic need to satisfy the vocal forces at a particular composer's disposal to the need to invoke deeper meaning by illustrating some symbolic or theological content.

Guerrero spent his entire working life in Spain with appointments as maestro de capilla of Jaén Cathedral (aged 17) and maestro de capilla of Seville Cathedral on 9 March 1574 (after some 23 years in the assistant's post). He did, however, live a rather adventurous life; he undertook some major travels and was apparently twice captured by pirates when he travelled by sea between Genoa and Marseilles. Despite being home-grown in an age when so many composers 'cut their teeth' in Italy, Guerrero is one of the greatest Spanish composers, alongside Victoria and possibly Morales, in the field of church music in the later 16th century. This is a position that only recordings such as this one can really help us understand. There has long been a paucity of sixteenth-century Iberian music on disc, and considering the sheer volume and quality of Guerrero's work it comes as a surprise that there are currently fewer than fifteen discs exclusively devoted to his music on Amazon. After all, Guerrero composed 18 mass settings, over 150 secular works in other genres, as well as a modest amount of secular works.  This new Album by Ensemble La Sestina is therefore both a welcome addition and a necessary expansion of the current discography and in standard it sits happily alongside the work of polyphonic giants The Tallis Scholars, The Cardinall's Musick and Westminster Cathedral Choir, who are among the highest-profile contributors on disc.

The mass on this recording is one in a long tradition of works based on the L'homme armé song which has possible connections with Charles the Bold and the knightly retinue of his father (Duke Philip-the-Good of Burgundy) called 'The Order of the Golden Fleece'. Certainly Guerrero is honouring a rich tradition by incorporating this song into his mass, yet the results are startlingly short and plain despite being modelled on a mass of the same name by Morales. That may sound like a criticism, but despite what Adriano Giardina himself refers to as 'loose woven' polyphony Guerrero's mass is exceedingly beautiful both in musical content and as realised in this performance. Softer sounding than the often laser-like brilliance of British Ensembles, Giardina's singers on are clearly enjoying the imitative nature of the part writing and invite us into an intimate and closely recorded sound world. The balance of clarity and delicacy in the Benedictus is especially well judged and deserves repeated listening.

The opening four voice motet of this programme, Gabriel archangelus, is in a more dense and serious style invoking a grandeur that is not so immediately apparent in the mass with its many sections for just two or three voices. There is some particularly beautiful singing in this motet (as indeed there is throughout the disc) but the breathtaking architecture of Guerrero's rolling phrases can feel rather underplayed in such a gentle performance. Maybe I am simply used to hearing Guerrero sung more stridently but I would certainly welcome either some more emotional charge or some more volume to compliment the motet's style.

The central section of this programme is somehow the most intriguing. A selection of three and four part Canciones y villanescas espirituales from a 1589 publication provide a quite different musical landscape which belies their religious sentiments. Madrigalian traits abound in the canciones whilst Giardina draws attention to the 'folksy' character of the villanescas (triple time, more use of homophony). These Spanish language works are not always easy to sing, although Ensemble La Sestina tackles them with an enviable skill and panache, which often allows them to bring out the impromptu qualities of the piece. There is a rather obvious edit at about 2'30 in vana sperança, but the performance is, as a whole, so good that it's hard to be distracted by it.

By choosing such contrasting pieces, Giardina and his ensemble offer a fascinating glimpse into the works of this major sixteenth-century composer. There is, I am convinced, much more to discover about Guerrero, and this recording will be welcomed by all who enjoy Spanish polyphony as well as complementing the many discs now available as part of Victoria's anniversary year.

Ensemble La Sestina / Adriano Giardina (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 88697824012)

10 Mar 2011

Tomás Luis de Victoria – a 400th anniversary profile

Originally Written for Gramophone magazine
10 march 2001

'Spain – the homeland of passionate musicians and fiery music…' claims a sleeve from works by de Falla, Granados and Albéniz (Leontyne Price, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Fritz Reiner). This opinion from the mid-20th century was probably influenced by, say, Picasso, Dalí and Gaudí and endures in the work of current artists such as the film-director Pedro Almodóvar. Add to this a touristic appetite for flamenco, castanets, bullfighting, Rioja and gazpacho and it is not surprising that guide-books are keen to convince us that modern Spain is a cocktail of incendiary temperaments and vibrant colours. Is it any wonder that Woody Allen chose this country as the setting for his complex and explosive exploration of personal relationships Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)?

It would be ridiculous to pretend that this reputation does not affect our view of Spanish music and, indeed, our performances of music from the whole Iberian Peninsula. Quixotically, such importation of fiery ideals seems particularly noticeable in the way many ensembles approach 16th-century music, and in particular the music of Tomás Luis de Victoria whose 400th anniversary we mark this year.

To read the full article please click here:

5 Mar 2011

A Worcester Ladymass

Originally written for musicalcriticism.com
05 March 2011

This new album from Trio Mediaveal is surely one of the most eagerly awaited of their career. Following their highly successful Folk Songs (2007), A Worcester Ladymass returns to the mediaeval sacred music with which these talented sopranos first made their name.

After wooing us with a deliciously slow Beata viscera on Stella Maris (2005), it is pleasing to hear more of the anonymous thirteenth-century English works often referred to as The Worcester Fragments. The Abbey of St Mary's Worcester was clearly a place of considerable musical tradition; and that so many musical manuscripts of the surrounding area survived the ravages of time and Henry VIII's best efforts to rid England of “popish ditties” says as much about their value to the faithful as it does the cost of the paper they were printed on. Many of these pieces were reused as bookbinding, rolled up and inserted into the spines of new books, or inserted into errant organ pipes to stifle unwanted ciphers. Yet these scattered remains are surely just a hint of burgeoning musical life in thirteenth- and fourteenth-century England.

Trio Mediaeval take particular care to point out that what they do is in no way an attempt to be 'authentic' in the old revivalist sense of the word. In fact the soprano Anna Maria Friman, an academic musicologist in her own right, talks of being engaged in 'an act of simultaneous preservation and re-creation' through their work. I agree; it is impossible to re-create the lost sound world of medieval vocal practice, because if we did manage an accurate reconstruction through guesswork we would never know. And then there is always the uncomfortable possibility that if we could know, we might not like the result. So Trio Medieval use imagination and guesswork to fill in enough of the unknowable performance factors to create something both attractive and functional. The huge difference between their album and many others like it is, of course, the high pitch.
Their sound is immediately alluring, something of the purity of their Norwegian (and Swedish!) voices combines with an almost flirtatious approach to blend. Never afraid to sound as though they are enjoying the music, their upwards transposition throws fresh light on the complex textures of these works. Compare, for instance, De supernis sedibus and Dulciflua tua memoria with the same recorded by The Orlando Consort (Amon Ra CD-SR 59). Although both recordings are absolutely excellent, there is something so innately joyful in the way Trio Mediaeval sing both of these works that just doesn't come across at men's voice pitch. The Orlando Consort sound far more reverential in comparison, simply because the complexity of this polyphony is more cluttered at a lower octave. Trio Mediaeval, therefore, offer something really different and quite arresting which is deliciously infused with their distinctive personalities.

By using these fragments to create a Ladymass they offer us a way to hear them that has liturgical significance. In creating such a programme they have collaborated with the composer Gavin Bryars, who has provided a new setting of the Credo and Benedicamus Domino texts. Bryars' works are beautifully crafted to both the voices and the mediaeval textures that surround them on the album. Skilfully avoiding a faux-medieval style, he blends seamlessly with the old music so that his ravishing harmonic injections provide the listener with many pleasurable shivers.

When performed live, the Trio's occasional use of chime-bars (Benedicta / Virgo Dei genitrix) is a welcome change of timbre but on this disc there is something unavoidably 'new agey' about it that I, for one, could live without. This is much amplified by the usual ECM imagery. For a record company that puts so much effort into stylish and contemporary packaging it never ceases to astonish me that they refuse to put the track listings on the back of the box; it is deeply irritating to have to prise the booklet out of the plastic hinge each time such information is required. The lack of Latin translations is also somewhat unusual since I feel sure listeners would have looked at them more frequently than they will the double-page spread of a desolate coastline. I worry that ECM are suggesting this is merely early muzak, and that we should disregard its message in favour of atmosphere alone. However, with recording engineering of such quality I am sure any gripes will quickly evaporate as soon as the play button has been pressed.

Fans of the Trio will not be disappointed, and those yet to discover their work should definitely allow these three sirens to lure their innocent ears into the rocky coastline of medieval England.

Trio Mediaeval (ECM New Series 476 4215)

12 Feb 2011

Allegri's Miserere and the Music of Rome

Originally written for musicalcriticism.com
12 February 2011

Allegri's Miserere is today one of the most famous and recognisable pieces of music from the sixteenth century, yet, as with all of Andrew Carwood's ventures, there is more to this programme than meets the eye. Many discs have borne similar titles over the last twenty or so years, but none come quite so close to resembling a plot by Dan Brown as this one.

The majority of this disc is given over to Missa Cantantibus Organis, written by seven Roman composers using themes from Palestrina's motet of the same name. The motet should be well known from James O'Donnell's recording with Westminster Cathedral Choir in 1999 (Hyperion CDA 67099). The mass, a joint effort between Stabile, Soriano, Dragoni, Giovannelli, Santini and Palestrina himself, is available on only one other album that I know of—with Wilfried Rombach's ensemble Officium (Christophorus CHR 77288)—so it is wonderful to have another performance of it here. And, what a great performance this is.

I've written before about the expressive and rich sound of The Cardinall's Musick in their Byrd recordings, but here they create a more ceremonial air. This is, after all, polychoral music written to impress. The large wedges of sound from each of the three choirs show a keen sense of dialogue under Carwood's direction yet, given the way that mass sections are by different composers, there is a surprising unity in this piece too. These seven composers were all high-ranking maestri in Rome, in contact with Palestrina and members of the Vertuosa Compagnia dei Musici di Roma as Carwood explains in his excellent notes to the disc.

Naturally, Palestrina's motet is also recorded on this disc, as are some lesser-known works by Allegri. De lamentatione Jeremiae prophetae scored for SSAT are particularly beautiful and extremely well sung, with 'dream team' sopranos Carys Lane and Rebecca Outram enjoying some ravishing phrases.

I am, however, slightly perplexed by the presence of Allegri's [in]famous Miserere. As I said earlier, it is only obvious that Andrew Carwood would record it at some point, and very beautiful it is too, with dazzling high Cs from Amy Haworth. It will certainly sell many records and rightly so; even if the plainsong is disappointingly heavy weather. But why choose to record this hackneyed version? Even back as far as 1993 Hugh Keyte had realised something was amiss and his early work on reconstructing the piece was recorded by Andrew Parrott's Taverner Choir. More recently (2002) the Paris-based Ensemble William Byrd directed by Graham O'Reilly recorded a nineteenth-century manuscript in which the castrato Domenico Mustafà had committed to paper what he could remember of performances by The College of Papal Singers before the Risorgimento of 1870. This version is a hybrid of the original work by Allegri with that of two other composers; and one can compare earlier sources to make it clearer what is and isn't Allegri's original music.

What we usually hear today is not only harmonically out-of-character for the time (as Carwood notes) but apparently a misunderstanding by the musicologist William Smith Rockstro working in 1880. What we hear on this recording, therefore, is something that we know isn't quite right. Does that bother the listener? Judging by album sales on similar recordings, no; it doesn't bother listeners at all. This current version of the Allegri has found a rather prominent niche in the early music canon and won't be shifted that easily. But whilst I'm enjoying hearing it, I cannot really mask my disappointment at an opportunity missed to broaden the debate. The Cardinall's Musick are one of the very best groups out there at the moment in my opinion, and I was hoping they would wade into this quagmire and offer us something new to chew over.

In summary, apart from my musicological grumble, this is a really fine disc with some beautiful performances. It's also one of the nicest cover designs from Hyperion that I've seen for a while so there is much to celebrate here, as ever.

The Cardinall's Musick / Andrew Carwood (Hyperion CDA 67860)

30 Jan 2011

Music from the reign of King James I

Originally written for musicalcriticism.com
30 Jan 2011

Music from the reign of King James I explores works by composers with links to both the Chapel Royal and Westminster Abbey, and whilst not all the music on this disc would have been sung in the Abbey during King James' reign, it would have most likely have been performed by musicians connected with the Abbey. The programme begins with an extremely attractive selection of verse anthems by Thomas Tomkins (1572-1656) and Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625). This is a genre that suits The Choir of Westminster Abbey well; they have a clear and direct sound from which emerge some very high quality soloists all underpinned by Robert Quinney's superb organ playing. James O'Donnell paces each anthem beautifully never rushing the transition between the solo and the choir passages and encouraging a thoughtful response to the texts.

In Tomkins' exquisite unaccompanied settings of When David Heard and Then David Mourned the choir invoke a plaintive quality without compromising their clear tone. Possibly these two works are the most beautiful of the performances on this disc; especially stylish is the shaping of '…with his lamentation' in Then David Mourned. Gibbons' O clap your hands draws the disc to a fitting close. Performed here with organ it sounds far more regal than is often heard and is definitely a favourite of mine on this disc.

This album is a pleasing mix of familiar with under-represented composers like Edmund Hooper (c1553-1621) without admitting any music of a noticeably lower interest level. Quinney's organ playing is, as ever, an absolute delight and his programme notes offer a formidable companion to O'Donnell's stylish grasp of this repertoire. On listening to this disc I am struck by the quality of the individual solos which are not only often quite short but also tend to lie quite low in the various voice-ranges, altos particularly. These fleeting verses can often be something of a poisoned chalice for singers, but the gentlemen of the Abbey Choir handle them with an enviable eloquence. It occurs to me that The Choir of Westminster Abbey will soon be broadcast throughout the world as they sing at the next Royal Wedding, this disc assures us that they have never sounded so good.

The Choir of Westminster Abbey / James O'Donnell (Hyperion CDA67858)