Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

The Abbey Singers/Elizabeth Lamb
Details from Peter Bowyer, tel +44 (0)1228 536146

I have written before of the well balanced, musicianly work of the Carlisle-based Abbey Singers and their latest (1999) CD is once again a delight. All but five of the 22 tracks are British, a judicious mixture of sacred and secular. Some are well known, like Charles Wood's O Thou the Central Orb, which recalls Parry's grand manner, the title song (Vaughan Williams' Antiphon) and the snippet from Rutter's Magnificat, but new to me were the appealingly simple O For a Closer Walk with God, Ian Hare's slightly chromatic, attractively direct O God Thou Art My God and The God of Love, a vocal version of Thalben Ball's beautiful Elegy, made by Andrew Seivewright, the Singers' founder. Hare is the organ accompanist here and he is given a solo, Stanford's Postlude in D minor. Several of the secular pieces are folk songs (Vaughan Williams and Bantock are among the arrangers). Finzi is represented, marvellously, by two contrasting songs to Robert Bridges' words, I Praise the Tender Flower and the popular My Spirit Sang All Day. One of Moeran's Songs of Springtime runs them close in its bibulous way. Fresh light is shed on two much set poems by Hugh Roberton's In Summertime on Bredon and Michael Hurd's Orpheus with his Lute. The sprightly accompaniment to the latter is played by Helen Snowball, who is also accorded a solo, Elgar's Idylle.

This is a delicious disc which should bring much pleasure to lovers of British choral miniatures.

Philip Scowcroft

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