Only Plebs angelica was specifically written for a cathedral choir, or, for that matter, boys's; voices, but there is no doubt that the Christ Church choir brings to much of this music exceptional precision and purity of tone. The two unison songs, Bonny at Morn (a gorgeous setting for voices against a fluttering trio of recorders) and Music, display a remarkable tautness of ensemble; Stephen Darlington draws from his singers some exquisitely shaped lines and a remarkable oneness of purpose.
Crown of the Year was written for children's voices and is a setting of words by Christopher Fry originally intended for inclusion in the 1952 collection of madrigals by living British composers called A Garland for the Queen (from which Dance, Clarion Air comes). Thankfully Tippett delayed setting this text until 1958 when be could expand it into a cantata for voices, recorders, oboe, clarinet, trumpet, string quartet, percussion and piano. The result, as Geraint Lewis maintains in his most comprehensive note, "deserves to be much better known, representing as it does a bridge between the lyricism of The Midsummer Marriage and the rhetoric of King Priam". Here is a truly splendid performance with the choir and instrumental ensemble perfectly matched, and Martin Jones excelling in the virtuoso piano part. The recording, made in the Abbey at Dorchester-on-Thames, is simply outstanding.