American Record Guide September 2000

American Record Guide September/October 2000

WEBBER: Sacred Choral

A Hymn of Thanksgiving; Mass, Princeps Pacis; Lo! my Shepherd is Divine; Dominus Firmamentum Meum; Mass, Sanctae Mariae Magdalenae; 0 Love, I give Myself to Thee; Tantum Ergo Sacramentum; Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis in E minor; Most Glorious Lord of Life! Love Divine, all Loves Excelling; Sing the Life; The Stable where the Oxen Stood; New Life in Christ(from ‘The Saviour’).

Nicholas Luff. organ; Choir of All Saints, Margaret Street / Harry Bramma

Priory 677 (Albany) 73 minutes

Webber was well known as an organist and composer before joining the Royal College of Music in 1946 as professor of theory and composition. He was also director of the London College of Music. From 1939 to 1948, he was organist and choirmaster at All Saints Margaret Street.

Webber’s overall style is firmly fixed in the romantic era of Stanford and Vaughan Williams. But the sacred choral music displays his unique talent, in a variety of styles and moods. On the whole, these works are contemplative, as opposed to celebratory. They represent a style of church music that needs to be revisited in this country – intelligent texts coupled with glorious, well-crafted music.

The performance by the Choir of All Saints Margaret Street is magnificent. They sing with a warm blend that is not often heard in mixed English choirs. There are only 12 singers, but their sound is rich and rewarding. I could only wish for more bass voices. The sopranos sometimes overpower them.

If you like English choral music, this is a must-have.