Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Jerusalem Hubert PARRY
Sweet Sacrament Divine Francis STANFIELD
I, the Lord of sea and sky Dan SCHUTTE
Dear Lord and Father of mankind Hubert PARRY
Hark what a sound Richard TERRY
This is the truth sent from above TRAD
O Little town of Bethlehem Walford DAVIES
Brightest and best are the sons of the morning J F THRUPP
Jesu, grant me this, I pray Orlando GIBBONS
Drop, drop, slow tears Orlando GIBBONS
When I survey the wondrous cross TRAD
Love's redeeming work is done TRAD
I would be true IRISH AIR
Jerusalem the golden Alexander EWING
Lord of all hopefulness IRISH AIR
I vow to thee, my country Gustav HOLST
Above the moon earth rises IRISH AIR
Steal away SPIRITUAL
There's a wideness in God's mercy Maurice BEVAN
God be in my head Walford DAVIES
The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended Clement SCHOLEFIELD
The Choir of the Abbey School, Tewkesbury
Carleton Etherington, organ
Benjamin Nicholas, Director
Recorded Tewkesbury Abbey, 13-15 March 2001
GUILD GMCD 7223 [66.08]
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A surprising disc. Surprising to find a very English Abbey school essay Steal Away; surprising to hear When I survey the wondrous cross sung to the tune of O, waly waly; I would be true to the tune of the infamous Air from County Derry; Above the moon earth rises to the tune of The Salley Gardens; surprising to hear Dear Lord and Father of mankind sung so slowly.

The surprises continue. Dan Schutte's sub-Lloyd-Webberian opus, I, the Lord of sea and sky follows Parry and Francis Stanfield and precedes Dear Lord and Father of mankind, an especially unfortunate conjunction for the contemporary piece. There are two pieces by Orlando Gibbons, the first of which Jesu, grant me this I pray is sung in the nineteenth century translation by H.W. Baker and is a profoundly beautiful piece of music, well sung here.

With their bright, forward tone - well captured by the Guild engineers - the trebles, especially, do justice to J.F. Thrupp's tremendous Brightest and best are the sons of the morning, well aided by the organ playing of Carleton Etherington.

Perhaps the boys are over-sibilant, especially in Dear Lord and Father of mankind and Benjamin Nicholas has perhaps encouraged over accenting here; maybe some of the descants throughout the disc strain rather too hard and one bold treble can easily be heard forcing his tone heroically at the words the love that asks no questions in the great Holst hymn. It's arguable also that the descant in The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended doesn't quite work and the tempo is improbably slow. The voices, too, may not be ideally blended and the necessarily reverberant Tewkesbury Abbey acoustic does generally dictate slower tempos than can perfectly sustained.

Nevertheless many of the surprises are welcome ones; much is sensitively done (Gibbons' Drop, drop slow tears especially so) and at their best - in Gibbons, Thrupp, Davies and Bevan particularly - the Choir projects a tremendously vital and generous sound.

Jonathan Woolf

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