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Magnificat in C - C.V. Stanford
Locus Iste - Anton Bruckner
Regina Caeli - Colin Mawby
May the road rise to meet you (An Irish Blessing) - Colin Mawby
Carillon - Herbert Murrill (J Devor)
Give us the wings of faith - Ernest Bullock
A Spotless Rose - Herbert Howells (Soloist: Stephen Kennedy)
Interlude in C - Walford Davies (S King)
Messe Solennelle (Kyrie) - Vierne
O Salutaris - Edward Elgar
Magnificat from Collegium Regale - Herbert Howells
Carillon de Westminster - Vierne
I was glad Psalm122 - C Hubert H Parry
Messe Solennelle (Kyrie-Gloria-Agnus Dei) - Jean Langlais
Nunc Dimittis from Collegium Regale - Herbert Howells
Ubi Caritas - Maurice Duruflé
Te Lucis ante Terminum - H Balfour Gardiner
Finale (Sonata no. 4) - Mendelssohn
Ave Maria - Colin Mawby
Nunc Dimittis Collegium Regale - Herbert Howells
Messe à deux Churs et deux Orgues (Kyrie-Sanctus/Benedictus-Agnus Dei) Charles-Marie Widor
Like as the Hart Psalm 42 - Herbert Howells
Stephen King - Grande Orgue
James Devor - Orgue du Chur
Andrew Wright - Master of Music
Our tour begins with a recital given by the choir in the setting of L'eglise du St. Pierre de Gros-Caillou, where the choir will sing at the vigil mass later this evening.
The recital opens with the Magnificat in C by Irish born composer Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924). Stanford became one of the most prolific composers in England in his day and spent most of his working life as a teacher in Cambridge and London. During the revival of unheard polyphonic works at the newly built Westminster Cathedral, Stanford urged his pupils to attend services there; "Palestrina for twopence" was his well-known phrase - the price of the bus fare from the Royal College of Music to the cathedral. Despite this he composed in a style typical of his contemporaries such as Sir C. Hubert H. Parry (1848-1918) and Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934). Parry was a great friend of Stanford. In fact one of Stanford's best-known settings of the Magnificat, that for double choir, was dedicated to Parry after a rift that was never resolved before Parry's death. In each setting Stanford adopts a new and distinct idiom in which to mould his music. The setting performed here has the typical grandiose flavour of the time but, like his contemporary Elgar, he relishes the opportunity for more musically luxurious phrases. Elgar, himself a devout Catholic, wrote several liturgical pieces in a more sonorous style. Much more exuberant is Parry's setting of Psalm 122 I was glad when they said unto me. Originally written for choir and orchestra this work has become popularised by performances at many prestigious occasions and is now sung in many of England's cathedrals.
Regarded as one of the fathers of music of the Catholic Church in Britain since the Second Vatican Council, Colin Mawby (b. 1936) has achieved a great output of liturgical music now published in several countries. Mawby did much whilst Master of Music of Westminster Cathedral (between 1961 and 1978) and as Editor of L. J. Cary & Co. Publishers to establish a tradition of liturgical music that embraced the Council's requirements and yet not forsaking the great corpus of polyphonic works in existence. His setting of the Marian hymn Regína Caeli is a dance-like play on the original plainsong, Mawby's greatest musical inspiration. However, his Ave Maria is somewhat dissimilar in its pent-up intensity, conveying a breadth of feeling in awe of the Virgin. Likewise, A Spotless Rose by the English composer Herbert Howells (1892-1983) pays gentle tribute to the Mother of Jesus in the words of a fourteenth century text. Howells' influence of blues-like harmonies is evident in his setting of Psalm 42 Like as the Hart Desireth the Waterbrooks in which he gives these harmonies over to the organ except at the very end at which point the choral force leans on the word "presence" (of God). Howells surrenders to the majesty of his counterparts in the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis from Collegium Regale, a setting of the Anglican Eucharist and Office written for the choir of King's College, Cambridge, in 1944. Howells' devotion for the music of the church never came near to such devotion of its faith, yet his music would seem to tell another story in its guise of heartfelt belief in the very poignant words that he set to music.
It must be said that, like Howells, Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986) was indeed a genius in the art of writing in a predominantly harmonic fashion. His small collection of a cappella motets are some of the most beautiful ever in a non-polyphonic style. But despite his position as one of Paris' renowned titulaire organists and one time Assistant to Louis Vierne (1870-1937) at Notre-Dame the influence of the neo-gothic didn't reach him. He was, however, one of a long line of organists to whom it did reach - Charles Marie Widor (1844-1937) at St. Sulpice, Vierne at Notre-Dame and Assistant to Widor (between 1892 and 1900) and Jean Langlais (1907-1991) Organist of St. Clotilde.
Vierne and Widor both "reigned" (to use Widor's own comparison to Queen Victoria) in their respective tribunes in the true sense of the word and both produced a grand-scaled Mass from them: Widor's Messe à Deux Churs et Deux Orgues (1878) and Vierne's Messe Solennelle (1899). It would appear that as times have changed these masterpieces have lapsed into the realms of the impractical but it was said that church music in nineteenth century Paris had been outvoted (and according to Saint-Saëns sometimes replaced by figures such as Lefébure-Wely) by ballet and the Opéra-Comique. Thus when Vierne produced his newly commissioned Messe it only received one full performance at St. Sulpice. After this only the Kyrie was learnt by the choir at Notre-Dame and as Vierne said in his Souvenirs "we never ventured any further"...
Notes by James Devor (c) 2003
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