Although modern British society is these days avowedly multicultural and secular, it only takes a royal wedding or funeral for millions to tune in and get a dose of good old-fashioned Anglican culture. Arguably, the most memorable element of these services is the hymn singing, where the great and good let rip whilst the choir and organ contribute soaring descants. Such occasions are vividly evoked with this selection of favourites.
Vaughan Williams’ arrangement of the Old Hundredth is an obvious curtain raiser and before we reach the rousing finale of Jerusalem, we encounter such beloved items as The Lord’s my shepherd (sung at the Queen’s wedding) and Love divine, all loves excelling in the fine arrangement O’Donnell made for the most recent royal wedding.
The absence of a congregation allows for slightly faster tempos and more creative treatments than would otherwise be possible. One such example is Robert Quinney’s idiomatic arrangement of the title track. Quinney delights in adorning Handel’s tune with as many accented dissonances as possible. The result is delicious. I heard the voice of Jesus say and Let all mortal flesh keep silence also receive atmospheric renderings.
As usual, O’Donnell draws the very best singing from his choristers and Quinney (recently appointed to Queen’s College, Oxford) provides colourful but sympathetic accompaniment. Sing along, anyone?