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John Blow:Symphony Anthems USA]
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Blow: Symphony Anthems
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Description du produit
Description du produit
John Blow mentor, colleague and friend of Purcell deserves recognition as a major gure in the ourishing of music that followed the Restoration in 1660. This new recording by New College Choir its rst under the direction of Robert Quinney includes three previously unrecorded symphony anthems, together with ceremonial works written for the coronation of James II and the consecration of the rebuilt St Paul's Cathedral. Alongside these, Quinney presents the rst performance in 400 years of a newly reconstructed verse anthem. New College Choir and St James' Baroque, playing period instruments, bring Blow's innovative and strikingly individual voice vividly to life.
All the works are given splendid performances which not only reminds us that there is more to Blow than merely being Purcell's mentor but also confirm that New College's famous choir is in very good hands. GRAMOPHONE EDITOR'S CHOICE --Gramophone,Sept'16
A strong case is made here for an unjustly neglected Purcell contemporary, including three hitherto unrecorded anthems. --MusicWeb, Aug'16
The music of this 17th-century Englishman has a Purcellian refinement and is performed with elegance and poise. **** --BBC Music Magazine, Oct'16
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The six anthems recorded here are 'God spake sometime in visions', 'Hear my voice, O God', 'O sing unto the Lord', 'When the Son of Man', 'When Israel came out of Egypt' and 'I was glad'. The first and last items are the grandest of these works, and not surprisingly both have been recorded a few times before. There is much lovely and melodically attractive music here; the final work 'I was glad', with its celebratory text and more colourful scoring including a pair of trumpets, is especially impressive. The music is performed here by the Choir of New College Oxford, all male with boy trebles, together with the period instrument ensemble St James' Baroque, all directed by Robert Quinney.
The problem I find with these performances lies in the rather languid approach, very much affected by the Anglican manner which some listeners will like but others definitely dislike. The choir sing well enough, although the vocal balance is somewhat treble-dominated. The instrumental contributions are elegant and graceful, but rather too non-committal for my liking. The vocal soloists are the most obviously affected by the English cathedral syndrome, with plenty of piety but little spirituality. As a result some of Blow's finest passages, such as the countertenor duet 'One thing have I desired' in the anthem 'I was glad' (track 6), sound far too namby-pamby and lose much of their grace and beauty as a result. The same features seriously affect the performance of ‘Hear my voice, O God’ (2), 'When the Son of Man' (4) and 'When Israel came out of Egypt' (5). There's also a notable absence of drama or illustrative power in the narrative passages delivered by soloists such as ''The sea saw that and fled: Jordan was driven back' (5); whereas the full choir do much better with the following verse 'The mountains skipped like rams'.
The performance of the final work, the grand 'I was glad' composed for the opening of St Paul's Cathedral in 1697, at last brings life to the proceedings – apart, once again, from the solo sections. The full-on choral and instrumental passages go very well and the work brings the programme to an uplifting conclusion, going some way toward redeeming a hitherto disappointing effort. Recorded sound is good, booklet notes are excellent, and texts are provided.
In the case of the opening 'God spake sometime in visions', I much prefer the versions on two very fine discs of music by various composers for the coronation of King James II Music at the Coronation of James II 1685 and Coronation Music for King James II. There's also a two-disc collection of Blow's anthems on Hyperion Blow: Anthems. I haven't heard this latter, although it was well reviewed in 'Gramophone' magazine; but then, so was the present disc. One way or another, if you're not already familiar with Blow's sacred works, they are very fine examples of the English baroque - but, judging by the various recordings past and present, evidently difficult to bring off well in performance.
There's more information, including a sample track and expanded CD notes, at the Choir of New College Oxford website.