Oxford Church Anthems

The liturgical tradition and practice of the Church of England is rich and varied. It has resulted in a large corpus of music which is widely performed in Sunday services, morning prayers and evensongs. How on earth do you select 100 anthems from this large repertoire? That was the task of Lionel Dakers whose selection was published by Oxford University Press in 1994 under the title The New Church Anthem Book. This disc presents 18 anthems from this book, going from William Byrd to John Rutter.


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Review This disc is a sound illustration of the collection which Lionel Dakers - who also wrote the notes - brought together in The New Church Anthem Book. I assume that many choirs use this book, and that in many churches one will hear less perfect performances than those from the Christ Church Cathedral Choir Oxford. The 19th- and 20th-century anthems come off best. This is daily bread for any cathedral and college choir, and here the choir is hard to beat. In the older repertoire I would sometimes prefer more powerful performances. Gibbons' Almighty and everlasting God is too feeble, especially considering the text. Although one can't judge this disc by historical criteria Purcell's Thou knowest Lord is less well articulated than one would wish, and some elements in the text should have been given more weight. Lastly, the dissonances in Crux fidelis are hardly notable. Here the King's Singers make a more lasting impression, and an old recording of Portuguese polyphony by Pro Cantione Antiqua (Teldec) includes the most incisive performance of this motet I have ever heard. Lovers of English anthems will certainly enjoy this disc and the booklet includes all the lyrics. Johan van Veen, Musicweb-international.com

"Christ Church Cathedral Choir display their collective talents as an extremely disciplined and well balanced choir in everything from musical sound effects to old-fashioned hymn singing." American Record Guide

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