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A Bride's Guide To Wedding Music
Featuring music of J.S. Bach, Boccherini, Britten, Charpentier, Clarke, Fauré, Franck, Gluck, Goss, Handel, Massenet, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Mussorgsky, Pachelbel, Parry, Poston, Purcell, Satie, Schubert, Stanford, Vivaldi, Wagner, Walton and Widor.
Detailed track listing at end of review.
NAXOS 8.557246-47 [72:28 + 72:26]

When I opened the package containing this two-disc set, my first reactions were “How on earth am I expected to review this?  What can I possibly say about thirty-eight excerpts or short pieces of music, most of which have not the slightest connection to weddings?  Surely this is no more than a cynical marketing ploy intended to resell back-catalogue material.”

Nevertheless, it was my duty to approach the review in an unprejudiced manner. So I listened to the music while I did other things.  It was not as though the review was really about the musical qualities in the performance, more about the selections and their appropriateness for use in a wedding ceremony.  A significant proportion of the selections are for organ or for flute and harp duo, suitable choices for most weddings.

Among the generally serviceable performances (and yes, they are all from other Naxos CDs), a few stand out: Pie Jesu from Fauré’s Requiem, Let The Bright Seraphim and the Hallelujah Chorus from the very well regarded Scholars Baroque Ensemble recording of The Messiah, Britten’s Jubilate Deo among them.

| But what struck me was that there seemed to be a pattern in what I was hearing: periods of pleasant background music (if you’ll pardon the expression, but that’s what it was), then a burst of grandeur, followed by quiet, reverential works and finishing up in joyous celebratory fashion.

So I made my way to the booklet.  My first surprise was that it wasn’t the normal Naxos three-fold cover sleeve, but a proper booklet of more than thirty pages! A quick perusal of the contents page provided an explanation of my observation of the brackets of different styles of music.  The thirty-eight tracks were grouped together for different stages in the wedding ceremony. So the pleasant background music was the Introductory or Prelude Music while the congregation arrived and waited for the bride. The other groups were titled Entry of the Bride, Hymns and Anthems, Signing of the Register and Exit of the Bride and Groom.  My opinion of the motives behind the recording began to waver.  Someone had clearly put some thought into this.

This feeling was strengthened as I read more through the booklet.  There was an introduction, talking about different styles of weddings and the music suited to them, the type of musicians to be employed – I was pleased to see that the author suggested that “it is often not practical or cost-effective to hire a whole orchestra” – and the choice between recorded and live music. Each piece was then described, with a reference to the composer and the style of work, as well as, and most impressively, a performance guide: the type of instrument(s) and the level of difficulty.  The booklet finished with some guidance about where to obtain sheet music (though in southern England only), the legal side of playing CDs and performing in public and finally a glossary of musical terms.

So, rather uniquely, the value of a CD was proven to me by its booklet, not by its music.  Would this help a bride (and her mother) who felt they wanted music more significant than that of the pop diva of the moment?  I suspect it would.

David J Barker



Detailed track listing

CD 1
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147: Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (arr. for organ)
Sheep may safely graze, BWV 208
Bertalan Hock (organ)
Overture (Suite) No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068: II. Air
Takako Nishizaki, Alexander Jablokov (violins)/Capella Istropolitana/Oliver Dohnanyi
Luigi BOCCHERINI (1768-1805)
String Quintet in E major, Op. 11, No. 5: III. Minuet (arr. D. Sosin)
Nora Shulman (flute)/Judy Loman, harp
The Four Seasons: Violin Concerto in F minor, Op. 8, No. 4, RV 297, "Winter": II. Largo
Takako Nishizaki, violin/Capella Istropolitana/Stephen Gunzenhauser
Gymnopedie No. 1 (arr. for flute and harp)
Nora Shulman (flute)/Judy Loman, harp
Christoph Willibald GLUCK
Orfeo ed Euridice: Dance of the Blessed Spirits (arr. for flute and harp)
Nora Shulman (flute)/Judy Loman, harp
Canon in D major
Capella Istropolitana/Richard Edlinger
Richard WAGNER
Lohengrin, Act III: Wedding March (arr. for organ)
Bertalan Hock (organ)
Jeremiah CLARKE
Trumpet Voluntary
Gyorgy Geiger (trumpet)/Bertalan Hock (organ)
George Frideric HANDEL
Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV 351: Overture
Capella Istropolitana/Bohdan Warchal
Modest Petrovich MUSSORGSKY
Pictures at an Exhibition: Promenade
Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra/Daniel Nazareth
Te Deum, H. 146: Prelude (arr. for organ)
Simon Lindley (organ)
George Frideric HANDEL
Zadok the Priest, HWV 258
Tallis Chamber Choir/Royal Academy Consort/Jeremy Summerly
Solomon, HWV 67, Act III: Sinfonia, "Arrival of the Queen of Sheba"
Budapest Strings
Trumpet Tune
Gyorgy Geiger (trumpet)/Bertalan Hock (organ)
Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven
Darius Battiwalla (organ)/Halifax Choral Society/John Pryce-Jones
Immortal, Invisible
Darius Battiwalla (organ)/Halifax Choral Society/John Pryce-Jones
Hubert PARRY
Dear Lord and Father of Mankind
Darius Battiwalla (organ)/Halifax Choral Society/John Pryce-Jones
Elizabeth POSTON
Jesus Christ the Apple Tree
Michael Bloss (organ)/Elora Festival Singers/Noel Edison
George Frideric HANDEL
Messiah, HWV 56: Hallelujah Chorus
Scholars Baroque Ensemble
CD2 Gabriel FAURÉ
Cantique de Jean Racine, Op. 11
Colm Carey (organ)/Oxford Schola Cantorum/Jeremy Summerly
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
Vesperae solennes de confessore, K. 339: Laudate Dominum
Priti Coles (soprano)/Kosice Teachers' Choir/Camerata CassoviaJohannes Wildner
Ave verum corpus, K. 618
Kosice Teachers' Choir/Camerata CassoviaJohannes Wildner
Panis angelicus
Jozsef Mukk (tenor)/Hungarian State Opera Chorus/Camerata Budapest/Laszlo Kovacs
Charles Villiers STANFORD
The blue bird
Oxford Camerata/Jeremy Summerly
Ellen's Gesang III (Ave Maria), Op. 56, No. 6, D. 839, "Hymne an die Jungfrau"
Ingrid Kertesi (soprano)/Camerata Budapest/Laszlo Kovacs
Gabriel FAURÉ
Requiem, Op. 48: Pie Jesu
Lisa Beckley (soprano), Colm Carey (organ)/Oxford Camerata/Jeremy Summerly
Sicilienne, Op. 78 (arr. for flute and harp)
Nora Shulman (flute)/Judy Loman, harp
Thais, Act II: Meditation (trans. by M.P. Marsick)
Takako Nishizaki (violin)/Jeno Jando (piano)
The Four Seasons: Violin Concerto in E major, Op. 8, No. 1, RV 269, "Spring": I. Allegro
Takako Nishizaki (violin)/Capella Istropolitana/Stephen Gunzenhauser
George Frideric HANDEL
Samson, HWV 57, Act III: Let the Bright Seraphim
Susanne Ryden (soprano), Niklas Eklund (trumpet)/London Baroque/Charles Medlam
Water Music: Suite No. 1 in F major, HWV 348 - VI. Air, IX. Hornpipe
Capella Istropolitana/Bohdan Warchal
Charles-Marie WIDOR
Organ Symphony No. 5 in F minor, Op. 42: Toccata
Bertalan Hock (organ)
William WALTON
Crown Imperial - Coronation March/English Northern Philharmonia/Paul Daniel
Benjamin BRITTEN
Jubilate Deo
Iain Farrington (organ)/St. John's College Choir, Cambridge/Christopher Robinson
A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op. 61: Wedding March (arr. for organ)
Bertalan Hock (organ)


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