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Elgar: Great is the Lord / O'Donnell, Westminster Abbey

Album Summary

>Elgar, Edward : Psalm 48 "Great is the Lord," anthem for chorus & organ (or orchestra), Op. 67
>Elgar, Edward : They are at rest, anthem for chorus
>Elgar, Edward : Queen Alexandra Memorial Ode
>Elgar, Edward : Ave Maria, Op. 2 no 2
>Elgar, Edward : The Apostles, Op. 49
>Elgar, Edward : Te Deum and Benedictus, for chorus, orchestra & organ, Op. 34
>Elgar, Edward : O Salutaris Hostia I, for chorus in F major
>Elgar, Edward : Ave verum corpus, Op. 2 no 1
>Elgar, Edward : Ecce sacerdos magnus, gradual for chorus & orchestra (or organ)
>Elgar, Edward : O Hearken Thou, offertory for chorus, organ & orchestra, Op. 64
>Elgar, Edward : Give unto the Lord, Op. 74
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Elgar from the Abbey-what could be more fitting? From the regal opulence of Great is the Lord, first performed in Westminster Abbey in 1912, to the quiet devotion of the Opus 2 Ave verum and Ave Maria, this varied program is the perfect guide through Elgar's rich choral output. Performances on this new recording are astounding, as James O'Donnell guides the men and boys of Westminster Abbey through the grandiloquence and tenderness of this seminal music. The full gamut of Elgar's career-from son of provincial instrument dealer to 'composer laureate'-is represented and at every turn these performers offer new insights into the performing possibilities of these all-too-often-hackneyed works. There is also a rare performance of the long-forgotten Queen Alexandra Memorial Ode-a fitting tribute by Poet Laureate (John Masefield) and Master of the King's Musick (Elgar) to Edward VII's much-lamented consort. Performances by The Choir of Westminster Abbey, under the direction of James O'Donnell and with the sympathetic organ accompaniment of Robert Quinney, are every bit as good as their previous Hyperion recordings would lead us to expect.

'The most impressive items are Great Is the Lord and Give unto the Lord, two powerfully expressive large-scale anthems composed just before the First World War. Their texts allow Elgar to explore a wide range of choral and organ effects in the service of some vividly graphic word-painting, which Westminster Abbey Choir bring to life with obvious relish' (The Daily Telegraph)

'The Abbey Choir ... give an excellent account of themselves, the trebles especially singing with the confidence of professional musicianship and with voices in fine, generous bloom. In some of the short, quieter pieces, such as They Are At Rest and Ecce sacerdos magnus, they achieve a standard as near perfection as any. And Robert Quinney is a tremendous asset: an organist who puts his technical skill to imaginative use, sometimes ... to vivid effect. Recorded sound is both clear and spacious, and the authoritative booklet contains some evocative period photographs' (Gramophone)

'The Choir of Westminster Abbey, directed by James O'Donnell, does great service in a programme ranging from his naive early pieces for his local Catholic Church, to Coronation music and an Ode, written for the unveiling of Queen Alexandra's memorial in 1932, one of his last pieces. Beautiful singing and sound quality from Hyperion' (Liverpool Daily Post)

'The Westminster Abbey Choir delivers its organ-accompanied programme with beautiful tonal colour and blend' (BBC Music Magazine)

'James O'Donnell never lets a detail pass or an effect count for nothing; likewise the Westminster Abbey Choir. Rarities, such as the Queen Alexandra Memorial Ode of 1932, receive equal care and attention ... Above all, this disc projects Elgarian grandeur and dignity' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Every work on the disc receives a convincing performance. James O'Donnell has chosen the tempi carefully, allowing the music enough space to breathe in the Abbey's generous acoustic whilst managing to avoid any sense of dragging. The choir sings well throughout and almost without fail produces a well-blended sound. Robert Quinney's accompaniments are colourful and exciting ... Highly recommended' (Cathedral Music)

'These choral works can be judged as small masterpieces' (Classics Today, Greece)



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Works Details

>Elgar, Edward : Psalm 48 "Great is the Lord," anthem for chorus & organ (or orchestra), Op. 67
  • Performers: Francis Brett (Bass); Robert Quinney (Organ)
  • Conductor: James O'Donnell
  • Ensemble: Westminster Abbey Choir
  • Notes: Westminster Abbey (07/06/2006/07/07/2006)
  • Running Time: 10 min. 24 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Choral
  • Written: 1910-1913

>Elgar, Edward : They are at rest, anthem for chorus
  • Performer: Robert Quinney (Organ)
  • Conductor: James O'Donnell
  • Ensemble: Westminster Abbey Choir
  • Notes: Westminster Abbey (07/06/2006/07/07/2006)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 56 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Choral
  • Written: 1909

>Elgar, Edward : Queen Alexandra Memorial Ode :: "So many true princesses who have gone", for chorus & military band
  • Performer: Robert Quinney (Organ)
  • Conductor: James O'Donnell
  • Ensemble: Westminster Abbey Choir
  • Notes: Westminster Abbey (07/06/2006/07/07/2006)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 39 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1932

>Elgar, Edward : Ave Maria, Op. 2 no 2
  • Performer: Robert Quinney (Organ)
  • Conductor: James O'Donnell
  • Ensemble: Westminster Abbey Choir
  • Notes: Westminster Abbey (07/06/2006/07/07/2006)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 11 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1887

>Elgar, Edward : The Apostles, Op. 49 :: The Spirit of the Lord
  • Performer: Robert Quinney (Organ)
  • Conductor: James O'Donnell
  • Ensemble: Westminster Abbey Choir
  • Notes: Westminster Abbey (07/06/2006/07/07/2006)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 23 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Cantata/Oratorio
  • Written: 1901-1903

>Elgar, Edward : Te Deum and Benedictus, for chorus, orchestra & organ, Op. 34
  • Performer: Robert Quinney (Organ)
  • Conductor: James O'Donnell
  • Ensemble: Westminster Abbey Choir
  • Notes: Westminster Abbey (07/06/2006/07/07/2006)
  • Running Time: 19 min. 25 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1897

>Elgar, Edward : O Salutaris Hostia I, for chorus in F major
  • Performer: Robert Quinney (Organ)
  • Conductor: James O'Donnell
  • Ensemble: Westminster Abbey Choir
  • Notes: Westminster Abbey (07/06/2006/07/07/2006)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 58 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Choral
  • Written: 1880

>Elgar, Edward : Ave verum corpus, Op. 2 no 1
  • Performer: Robert Quinney (Organ)
  • Conductor: James O'Donnell
  • Ensemble: Westminster Abbey Choir
  • Notes: Westminster Abbey (07/06/2006/07/07/2006)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 39 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1887

>Elgar, Edward : Ecce sacerdos magnus, gradual for chorus & orchestra (or organ)
  • Performer: Robert Quinney (Organ)
  • Conductor: James O'Donnell
  • Ensemble: Westminster Abbey Choir
  • Notes: Westminster Abbey (07/06/2006/07/07/2006)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 14 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1888

>Elgar, Edward : O Hearken Thou, offertory for chorus, organ & orchestra, Op. 64
  • Performer: Robert Quinney (Organ)
  • Conductor: James O'Donnell
  • Ensemble: Westminster Abbey Choir
  • Notes: Westminster Abbey (07/06/2006/07/07/2006)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 28 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1911

>Elgar, Edward : Give unto the Lord, Op. 74
  • Performer: Robert Quinney (Organ)
  • Conductor: James O'Donnell
  • Ensemble: Westminster Abbey Choir
  • Notes: Westminster Abbey (07/06/2006/07/07/2006)
  • Running Time: 8 min. 45 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1914