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Psalmody/Parley of Instruments/Peter Holman
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What art expresses (Haydn). Blest be the name of Jacob's God (Haydn). Maker of all! be thou my guard (Haydn). O let me in th' accepted hour (Haydn). Horrible is the end of th' unrighteous generation (John Stafford Smith). Tell us O women (Charles Burney). The Emperor's Hymn: Poco Adagio from the String Quartet in C major op.76 No.3 (Haydn). Give to God our thankful songs (William Gardiner arr. Haydn). Where Lord shall my refuge see? (Samuel Webbe senior). My God my king with joyful view (William Shield). Hear my prayer O Lord (Johan Arnold Dahmen). O thou that dwellest in the highest heavens (Johan Arnold Dahmen). Ye winged inhabitants of the grove (Johan Arnold Dahmen). Long life shall Israel's king behold (Haydn). How oft instinct with warmth divine (Haydn). The Lord th' almighty monarch spake (Haydn). The God of Gods the Lord hath call'd (John Foster of High Green Yorkshire).                

This is an issue of great historical interest and no little musical interest. Haydn's visits to England and their musical products are mostly well documented but one exception is his contribution - six psalm tunes, by no means unworthy of his genius - to William Tattersall's Improved Psalmody of 1794, a companion, surely, in its attempt to improve the music of church services, to Dr. Miller of Doncaster's Psalms of David four years before. Others besides Haydn contributed to this volume and here we have a beautiful example from the elder Samuel Webbe and a sprightly one from William Shield. John Stafford Smith, who composed the tune of The Star Spangled Banner, also contributed to Improved Psalmody, but here he is represented by an extended anthem possibly intended for a festival and certainly worthy of one. Three sacred songs with string quartet accompaniment by Johan Dahmen, a cellist in Salomon's orchestra, are also high in quality. Dr Burney was a friend of Haydn, and he too appears in this disc with a "dialogue hymn" - earlier than Haydn's visits but brightly galant. Another Haydn friend, William Jackson of Leicester, arranged Haydn's Emperor's Hymn Variations as a strophic anthem (Haydn's quartet original is also included for comparison). John Foster of High Green (Sheffield), another English composer for the church, clearly admired Haydn as can be seen from his psalm setting here. Finally (actually first on the CD) is the only piece which is not sacred : What Art Expresses, words, in praise of Haydn, and tune by Henry Harington of Bath (credited by some with the song Drink To Me Only), but set by Haydn himself: a memorable piece. Performances, by the Parley of Instruments (string quartet and keyboard) and Psalmody (lovely solo and choral singing) are excellent; so is Peter Holman's scholarship.

Phil Scowcroft

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