COME HOLY SPIRIT: MUSIC FOR ASCENSION, PENTECOST AND TRINITY
The Choir of the Queen’s College, Oxford
George Parsons, Organ
Owen Rees, Director
This is a welcome recording of some well-known, and some not-so-well-known music for three of the church’s key festivals. The young choir of Queen’s Oxford tackles its task with gusto, ably accompanied by George Parsons at the superlative 1965 Frobenius. Despite (or perhaps possibly even because of) its classical design, the instrument works well as an accompanimental medium, and especially in old Anglican warhorses such as Finzi’s God is Gone Up.
The choir’s enthusiasm works well in the many unaccompanied pieces: Victoria’s Ascendens Christus; Byrd’s Alleluia, Ascendit Deus and Regina Caeli Laetare by Lobo, to list just the pieces for Ascension. This juxtaposition of music from a similar period but different countries is fascinating. The thicker texture of Byrd contrasting with the lighter touch of Victoria and the more subdued approach of Lobo – with his shades of Schütz.
Much of the choral music comes from the 16th and 17th centuries and the choir is clearly very much at home in this music. Apart from the Finzi, we have pieces by Harvey (Come, Holy Ghost), Tavener (Prayer to the Holy Trinity) and Leighton (Let all the World). In contrast, Tallis gets three opportunities to be heard, including in his If ye love me. There are also contributions from Palestrina, Lassus and Guerrero. The choir is equally at home in all this music. I was particularly impressed by the solos + quiet choral singing in the Harvey.
The organ gets a fair hearing in the form of three chorale preludes by Bach. Firstly we have BWV 651, the Fantasia on Komm Heiliger Geist, taken at a cracking pace by Parsons. Then later comes BWV 667 – Komm Gott Schöpfer and finally the BWV 671 Kyrie. Strangely, no organ pieces for either Ascension or Trinity are included. I could have wished for more variety in the registration, invigorating though the Organo Pleno at Queen’s is.
Highly recommended, not least for its refreshing and enthusiastic approach to the music. The performers' love and enjoyment of the compositions is obvious.