VW hymnal 75605512492

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
A Vaughan Williams Hymnal
Choir of Trinity College Cambridge/Richard Marlow
Christopher Allsop, Andrew Lamb (organ)
rec. 1996, Chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge, UK
Texts included
Presto CD
Conifer Classics 75605 51249 2 [76]

This disc is a re-issue, by Presto Classics, of a recording from 1996. It gathers 21 of Vaughan Williams’ hymn tunes, whether original or adapted interspersed with the Three Preludes on Welsh Hymn Tunes for organ. As the editor of the English Hymnal he was keen that the tunes chosen should of the highest quality and in arrangements which were suitable and that could easily be sung by a congregation. He wrote that, ‘Fine melody rather than the exploitation of a trained choir has been the criterion of selection’. Here we have the ideal combination; the choir of Trinity College, Cambridge under Richard Marlow was at this time an ensemble that was almost without peer, certainly among university chapel choirs. The precision of tuning, attack and ensemble is a feature of every one of the tracks on this disc and Marlow’s gift for choosing exactly the right tempo for each tune means that the words are clearly audible and correspond to what would be clear unhurried speech. There are no weak items in the selection and the enterprise represents a model of what good hymn singing should be, but very rarely is.

The organ scholars Christopher Allsop and Andrew Lamb accompany skilfully and succeed in making the Metzler organ in Trinity College Chapel the perfect vehicle for these quintessentially English pieces, with no lack of tonal variety or colour. I also include Christopher Allsop’s performance of the Three Preludes on Welsh Hymn Tunes which sound completely idiomatic. A beautifully performed programme.

Martyn Strachan

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Bread of the world
Christ the Lord is risen again
Come down, O Love divine (Down Ampney)
Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness
Disposer supreme
Faith of our fathers
Father, hear the prayer we offer
Firmly I believe and truly
For all the saints (Sine nomine)
From the eastern mountains
God that madest earth and heaven
Hail Thee, Festival Day
He who would valiant be
I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say
It is a thing most wonderful
O God of earth and altar
Prelude on ‘Rhosymedre’
Preludes (3) on Welsh Hymn Tunes (Bryn Calfaria, Rhosymedre & Hyfrydol), for organ
Saviour again, to thy dear name we raise
The Old Hundredth Psalm Tune ‘All people that on earth do dwell’
Virgin-born, we bow before thee
Wherefore, O Father
Ye watchers and ye holy ones