This refreshing issue is, to all intents and purposes, the story of three universities: Oxford, Cambridge and London. The first two were the dominant force for centuries until, in the 1820s, London entered the fray. The capital's industrial and commercial expansion helped build a secular alternative to the Anglican imprint of Oxbridge, and with the backing of George IV and the Duke of Wellington, London University soon emerged as the ruling establishment's response to the old traditionalists. Indeed, London University was at the forefront of many new innovations, so much so that it accepted Anglicans as well as non-conformists, and this helped in no small way to enhance its reputation.
From the very beginning all students were expected to attend chapel services, particularly during Advent, and this tradition is still alive to this very day. Every December, over a thousand people attend the Advent Carol Service in the Chapel of King's College, London, and this is repeated over three nights to meet demand.
This album offers a spectrum of one such service, with its characteristic mix of plainchant, seasonal hymns and old and new polyphony. The foundation of this programme are the ‘Great' O Antiphons sung according to medieval Sarum practice. Indeed, these Antiphons provide the backbone, pointing inexorably towards the birth of Christ.
Listen — Antiphon: O Virgo virginum
(track 19, 0:40-0:58) © 2019 Delphian Records Ltd :
Apart from a brace of premiere recordings, the music centres on composers with a personal connection to King's such as Joel Rust and George Benjamin, and some famous names from the Renaissance era in the form of Palestrina, Orlando de Lassus and William Byrd.
Listen — William Byrd: Laetentur caeli
(track 17, 1:22-2:12) © 2019 Delphian Records Ltd :
A hugely beautiful issue, full of inspiring singing and emotional joy, performed with fine control, impressive depth of tone and a dynamic range that commands one's admiration from start to finish.
Listen — Kerensa Briggs: Magnificat (Gloucester Service)
(track 20, 5:25-6:21) © 2019 Delphian Records Ltd :
A perfect disc for a perfect season.
Copyright © 17 December 2019