GMCD 7276 – Come Holy Spirit – Music for the Ascension, Pentecost & Trinity

The Choir of the Queen’s College Oxford, Owen Rees – Director, George Parsons – Organ

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Seelsorge 04-08

Die hier vorgestellte Einspielung beinhaltet Vo­kalmusik aus der Renais­sancezeit bis hin zum 20. Jahrhundert und Orgel­werke von J. S. Bach zu den Festen Christi Himmelfahrt (vier Stücke), Pfing­sten (neun Stücke) und Trinitatis (vier Stücke).

Bei der Werkauswahl zu Christi Himmelfahrt steht der Ruf „Ascendit Deus in iubilatione, et Dominus in voce tubae” (frei über­setzt: Gott stieg mit einem Triumphschrei empor: Der Herr mit schallenden Trompetenklängen) im Vordergrund. Der Hymnus

„God is gone up” von G. Finzis ist von diesem Ruf inspiriert. Im Mittelpunkt des Stücks beschwört Finzi in lebhafter, lyrischer Ader Taylors Vision himm­lischer Musikanten herauf, welche die Himmelfahrt des Herrn begleiten, und deren herzergreifende, melodische Noten seinen Wagen während seiner Himmelfahrt umgeben. Die Kompositionen von T. L. de Victoria wie auch die von W. Byrd schaffen bei ihren Vertonungen des Textes „Ascendit Deus” gleichermaßen brillante Fanfaren für die „Stimme der Trompete”.

Bei der Werkauswahl zu Pfingsten steht der Ruf „Veni sancte spiritus” im Vordergrund. Orgelwerke J. S. Bachs bilden eine Klammer um die Vokal­werke von T. Tallis, Palestrina und J. Harvey. Diese Werke setzen tonmalerisch, in der Tradition der ver­schiedenen Jahrhunderte, das Pfingstereignis in Mu­sik um.

Für den Dreifaltigkeits­sonntag steht bei dieser CD der erste Teil von O. de Lassus’ Mottete „Tibi laus, tibi gloria” im Mittelpunkt. Weiterhin folgen Werke von J. Tavener, F. Guerrero und Leighton.

Diese CD schafft eine Klammer um die litur­gischen Feste nach Os­tern und der Musik aus verschiedenen Jahrhun­derten.

CMQ March 2006

In a highly enjoyable programme, the choir of The Queen’s College, Oxford explores music of the Renaissance (induding Byrd, Palestrina, Victoria and Tallis) and twentieth century composers (including Finzi, Jonathan Harvey, Leighton and Tavener). The Pentecost (central) portion of the disc also features seasonal cantus firmes settings for Organ by Bach.

The performances are carefully prepared with attention to detail, streng rhythmic vitality, and fine shaping of phrases and musical climaxes. Highlights among the sixteenth-century repertoire include Tallis’s glorious seven-part Loquebantur variis linguis and Lassus’s masterly Tibi laus, tibi gloria. The modern Works satisfyingly complement the Renaissance pieces. Harvey’s Come, Holy Ghost and Tavener’s Prayer to the Holy Trinityare meditative and mystical, White Finzi’s God is gone up and Leighton’s Let all the world are extrovert and exuberant. The Bach Organ Works are equally happy inclusions and afford welcome opportunities to hear the college’s 1965 Frobenius in a solo rote.

Organists’ Review February 2005

ASCENSION: Finzi God is gone up; Victoria Ascendens Christus; Byrd Alleluia. Ascendit Deus; Lobo Regina cœli laetare; PENTECOST: Bach Komm, Heiliger Geist, BWV651; Palestrina Veni sancte spiritus; TaIlis if ye love me; Harvey Come Holy Ghost; Bach Komm, Gott, Schöpfer; Heiliger Geist, BWV667; Palestrina Spiritus sanctus; Tallis O Lord, give thy Holy Spirit; Loquebantur variis linguis; Bach Kyrie, Gott Heiliger Geist, BWV671; TRINITY: Lassus Tibi laus, tibi Gloria; Tavener Prayer to the Holy Spirit; Guerrero Duo seraphim; Leighton Let all the world

The long and informative note tells us that this programme, split into three sections, concentrates on one of the greatest climaxes of the Christian year; this group of three feasts. The music chosen which celebrates these feasts is taken from the late renaissance and the twentieth century, plus the Bach works.

The singing of the 30-strong choir of men and women is excellent; full-blooded and we1l-blended and, although it can sometimes verge on the unrelenting, it is never short of energy. It is also carefu1ly tuned and any slight infelicity in that department is soon corrected. The performances are genera1ly straightforward with a good sense of style. The words are sometimes difficult to hear, but traditional Latin pronunciation is used.

The Tavener receives its first recording and is a welcome addition to the catalogue in this fine, if possibly too bold, performance. The same feeling pervades the Harvey, and I think it can only be described as lacking mysticism -there seems to be a lack of liquidity to the texture where it comes over as quite matter-of-fact.

The Queen’s organ does not really have the rounded sound that the two accompanied choral works (Finzi and Leighton) require to allow them to bloom.

The organ, and playing, both sound splendid for the Bach works though.

The recording is good. The booklet is, sadly, a typographical nightmare, with each page of the notes treated as a column width and the texts dotted about the pages amidst black and white pictures of the chapel’s stained glass. It includes a German translation, a specification of the organ and biographies.

International Record Review – January 2005

Choral Round-up

Meanwhile, in The Other Place, the choral Tradition is somewhat less flourishing: Oxford has yet to produce a mixed-voice collegiate choir of anything like the standard of Clare, Trinity or Gonville & Caius in Cambridge, and it is significant that the best of the Oxford choirs of this type is the only one with a professional conductor. ‘Come Holy Spirit’ includes music for Ascension, Pentecost and Trinity, performed by the chapel choir of the Queen’s College under Dr. Owen Rees. The music is from the sixteenth and twentieth centuries only, from Guerrero’s 12-voice Duo Seraphim to Jonathan Harvey’s effective Come Holy Ghost.
Francis Knight

Classics Today 07.06.04

Beginning with an expectedly rousing and expertly rendered God is gone up by Gerald Finzi, the Choir of the Queen’s College, Oxford and organist George Parsons offer a stylistically varied yet thematically cohesive program that ranges from Tallis and Byrd to Bach and Finzi, ending with Kenneth Leighton’s exuberant anthem Let all the world. In between we hear three chorale-based organ works by Bach–brilliantly played, the contrapuntal lines clearly articulated, the voicings fully exploiting both the instrument’s bright and dark colors and its nimbleness and power–and some well-chosen pieces from renaissance Spain (Guerrero, Victoria), Portugal (Lobo), and Italy (Palestrina). Perhaps the disc’s highlight is Jonathan Harvey’s (b. 1939) setting of Come, Holy Ghost, a masterful evocation of the mystical, surprising, and incomprehensible visitation of the Holy Spirit. Harvey employs the familiar hymn melody (Veni creator spiritus) and embellishes it with tone clusters, exotic harmonies, a couple of ear-catching solos (tenor James Gilchrist is especially notable), random, arrhythmic utterances, and in general draws us into a strange sound-world that’s fully worthy of its subject.

The choir of mixed voices (female sopranos; the alto section includes at least one male voice) is excellent, showing an overall mastery of the various styles and voice configurations. However, in the more thick-textured pieces–such as Tallis’ Loquebantur variis linguis and Guerrero’s Duo seraphim–interior voice-parts are somewhat mushy in the relatively close-up recording. Mostly, the singing is clear and detailed and well-balanced but for the occasional soprano emphasis. And although we’ve heard Tallis’ “If ye love me” more times than we can count, this choir’s lovely rendition allows us the chance to appreciate its simple beauty yet once more–and no one will complain. Highly recommended to all choral music fans.
David Vernier