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This disc from the mixed voices of Worcester Cathedral Chamber Choir, under founder-director Stephen Shellard, reveals many of the ensemble’s great strengths: fresh, clean attack, excellent diction and, perhaps above all, commitment to the music in hand. The central work – Vaughan Williams’s Five Mystical Songs – is the raison d’être of the recording, celebrating the centenary of its premiere in 1911 at Worcester. It’s a pity the performance is less convincing than one might have hoped. For this listener, it’s less engaging in its organ rather than orchestral guise, and baritone Ben Cooper, stepping out from the ranks of the choir, makes for a bland soloist. Other items are more successful: Elgar’s ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me’ from The Apostles and his Memorial Ode for Queen Alexandra, a genuine rarity, are both well performed. Best of all are two well-known miniatures: Stanford’s The blue bird and Parry’s My soul, there is a country, as well as the latter’s extended anthem Hear my words, ye people. In addition to accompanying the choir, George Castle plays a couple of Parry’s better-known chorale preludes.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica


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