Here is a disc with the air of luxury about it. To start, what a luxury to hear the voices of Robert King’s Consort by themselves. As part of a vocal and instrumental mix, they are never less than alluring, but there is something particularly luxurious about hearing them a cappella for an entire disc. The choice of programme is also generous and first-rate: we are presented with British works from this century and last, chosen around a broad theme of remembrance, and for the most part in pairs, sharing the same or similar texts. This allows listeners to enjoy familiar favourites as well as ‘classics in waiting’.
Amongst the well-known are William Harris’s setting of Bring us, O Lord God and Herbert Howells’ Take Him, Earth for Cherishing. Apart from their crystalline clarity and their impeccable ensemble, the singers deliver superbly expressive singing that takes these already famous pieces to a new level. The same artistry is also at the service of accomplished, more recent settings of these same texts. James MacMillan’s Bring Us, O Lord God brings an edgier but no less ecstatic feel to the text, while John Tavener’s Take Him, Earth for Cherishing uses only the first stanza of the text in a more detached, numinous style with echoes to create a work of haunting beauty.
Other engaging pairs on the programme include Drop, Drop, Slow Tears by Leighton and Thomas Hewitt Jones (b. 1984), opposing takes on Justorum Animae by Stanford and Lennox Berkeley (and an English setting by Murrill) and settings of I Heard a Voice from Heaven by Stanford and Howells. Tavener’s Song for Athene provides a stunning finale. The engineering and presentation are also in the deluxe category.