Weelkes Ninth Service and Anthems

Whilst the chief hallmarks of the 16th and 17th century English choral tradition were sensitive word-setting and sophisticated counterpoint, Weelkes's talents lay in making thrilling textures, ravishing sonorities, exhilarating rhythms, and when the moment seemed right, marvellously spicy harmonies. His success came posthumously - later generations of church musicians have warmed to this impulsive, colourful music, and today his works have a secure place in the cathedral repertory. The Ninth Service is the most extended composition known by Weelkes and belongs to the category of the ‘great’ service, conceived on the grandest scale and written, in this case, for the Chapel Royal.



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The first two anthems on this Nimbus CD neatly juxtapose the two sides of Weelkes’s music, the lively and the meditative, the latter usually less conventional and more interesting than the former. In Alleluia, I heard a voice, though the Winchester choristers take the work at a faster speed, which might seem more appropriate, the Christ Church version is all that one could wish for.

Brian Wilson

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