"The singers embrace this repertory with gusto. In certain passages, such as “Such is his power, that is his wrath he made the earth to quake” (Ps.XVIII/1), the strength of the vocal sound serves well ... Susanne Heinrich’s elegant viol playing in a set of divisions by Frances Withy is especially well done, with compellingly contoured, tapered sounds. The counterpoint between the instrumental pieces and the vocal works is a welcome one ... “The Oxford Psalms” is a recording of interest, certainly, and a performance rendered with care"
"Oxford Psalms"? All the works here have some connection with Oxford, but actually the musical thread is quite strong in itself. The well chosen works on this disc have in common an expressive communicativeness and sensitivity to text that bind the attention and at times impress deeply.
It is no surprise that Purcell should emerge looking like the great master he was; both ’Since God so tender’ and ’Blessed is he that considereth the poor’ demonstrate his ability to make the most of every detail of word-setting and then lift his work to a higher realm with purely musical genius. But Blow’s As on Euphrates’ shady banks is no less sophisticated in its more prolix way, while William Lawe’s bold chromatic fire shows him again to have been among the most worthy of Purcell’s English predecessors; his five psalms are intriguingly experimental, interspersing ardently emotional solos with plain hymn-tunes, sung in unison, with the odd unexpected harmony from the continuo. And even William Child, a composer not much recorded, cuts to the expressive quick with his chunky 1638 Psalmes, apparently England’s earliest music with ’continual bass’.
Tenors Rodrigo del Pozo and Simon Beston and bass Nicholas Perfect are not the most solid of vocal teams but bring plangent tone and textural intelligence to the music, even if the words are sometimes lost to a slightly under-present recording which can also cause solos to be momentarily overpowered by accompaniment, as at the start of Since God so tender. The accompanists themselves are exemplary, as are the short instrumental numbers. A must, I would say, for lovers of English Baroque."
Gramophone - Juy 2007
"...As ever, the instrumental playing from Charivari Agréable is beautifully crafted, neither excessively polished nor overtly boisterous, and there is a sense that here are musicians enjoying making music together above and beyond the enjoyment they obviously receive from exploring such a rich and varied repertoire. Beyond their accompaniment of the singers, the instrumentalists indulge in a few flights of fancy of their own. A totally inappropriately titled Miserere from an anonymous seventeenth-century composer (the notes suggest the title was appended ’more in hope than in spirit’) seems overflowing with happiness, with some gloriously robust viol playing lending it a decidedly bucolic air. Ng’s own arrangement of Christopher Simpson’s A Ground for a Harpsichord brings a touch of drawing-room elegance to this wonderfully varied and infinitely intriguing disc."
International Record Review - July 2007
"...I strongly recommend this disc, which is of far more than historical importance; it also has great musical value. I hope that this area of repertoire is going to be explored more extensively in the near future."
Johan van Veen
MusicWebInternational - October 2007
Performance *****, Sound ****
"Kah-Ming Ng wears his rigorous scholarship lightly; his notes, sprinkled with contemporary quotes, enthusiastically introduce eight English composers, some little-known but all with Oxford connections. Much of the music is a stream of newly-minted response to unfolding text, not in itself memorable but a very beautiful generic style. Several though, by William Lawes and Child, alternate vivid description - of ’power’, ’wrath’, ’heathen furiously [raging] together’ - with simple but deeply moving hymn-tunes returning to haunt the memory. Against some work-a-day functional music, Purcell’s ’Since God so tender’ stands out, its astonishing harmony oscillating freely between major and minor, voices shaping uneven phrase lengths - all over the simplest eight-note repeated ’ground’.
The singers are ideal for the repertoire, unaffected voices with the mutual rapport of lay-clerks - as two of them have been. Rodrigo del Pozo has a colourful but easy high-tenor voice, Nicholas Perfect a remarkable resonance at the bottom of his range.
Three harpsichord pieces including a ’ground’ arranged by Ng and a voluntary by Albertus Bryne (in his day, ’that famously velvet-fingered organist’) and a set of divisions for viol with theorbo accompaniment leaven the vocal music. Recording quality, in stereo rather than more spacious 5.1 surround-sound, is nonetheless excellent."
BBC Music Magazine - July 2007
"Three gentlemen, a bass and two tenors sing 17th-century devotional trios for a chamber market, making a homely, pious diversion for Easter. Their balance is a delight in Purcell’s Since God so Tender and Blessed is He. Exemplary cathedral diction makes a story of Locke’s Let God Arise, while the vocal prescision of Lawes’s humble Suite enhances the penitence. Some of the repertoire is dull and the tenor tone is thin for the acoustic, but Nicholas Perfect’s bass has rich low notes to match the accompanying lute’s voluminous bottom." ***
The Knowledge - 21 April 2007
No User Reviews Found.