Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:


Psalm 23 (cantata from Symphony No. 12)
A Rose Tree Blossoms
Jesus Lover of my Soul
Jesus Christ is Risen Today
The Lord's Prayer
Peace be Multiplied
O for a Shout of Sacred Joy
Out of the Depths
O God Our Help in Ages Past

Cathedral Choir, Boys and Girls Choir and Orchestra of St John's Episcopal Cathedral
Eric Plutz (organ)
Donald Pearson (conductor)
rec 6-8 Mar 1995, Denver
DELOS DE 3176 [60.20]
Amazon UK
 Amazon US

This CD further deepens our knowledge of the music of the late ALAN HOVHANESS. The devotional nature of the music does not detract from its capacity to give pleasure when listened to from a more sophisticated standpoint. The Magnificat is the single largest item taking just short of half the playing time. It buzzes and rumbles with pointillistic effect, is suggestive of Sibelian springs in the wilderness (track 7), stridulates like a cloud of locusts (track 9) and is graciously tuneful (listen to the flute in Suscepit Israel. The cantorial solo trumpet in Gloria Patri calms and heals all. The soprano's wavering note production is a blemish but tolerable. The three male soloists are admirably steady. The choir has a childlike purity of tone well deployed in music of such spirituality. In track 11 they embrace the same rustling hubbub as in Holst's Hymn of Jesus.

Hovhaness was known as a prolific symphonist. His Twelfth was written in 1960 and incorporates a setting of Psalm 23 played here. To long-held high notes from the orchestral violins the choir intone the Psalm. Then comes the solo trumpet and the taped sounds of a waterfall. 'The Valley of the Shadow of Death' takes the sinister music of Walton's moving finger from Belshazzar's Feast as its departure point. While the Magnificat could easily have drifted from the liturgical Vaughan Williams this is more exotic and uses avant-garde effects - usually restricted to the orchestra.

The remaining quarter of an hour of the disc is taken by eight devotional a cappella anthems or hymns with organ. Patrick Hadley, Gustav Holst and Herbert Howells could easily be the mentors although the oriental slide of O for a Shout of Sacred Joy is more certainly of Eastern origin.

Music of healing sung with feeling and of as much interest to dedicated Hovhaness fans as to the even greater host of choral enthusiasts. I strongly recommend that choir conductors obtain this disc and think about the Hovhaness Psalm or Magnificat next time they are tempted by a Rutter morsel.

Good liner notes. A most attractive disc if somewhat short on playing time.

Rob Barnett

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers : - The UK's Biggest Video Store

Concert and Show tickets


Musicians accessories

Click here to visit

Return to Index