Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I like compilation albums. Sometimes they’re like a Whitman’s Sampler with an assortment of good things. One that I like a lot is Miserere, A Collection of Choral Classics. Here we get to enjoy the Winchester Cathedral Choir, The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Seaford College Chapel Choir, The Huddersfield Choral Society and the Viols of the Consort of Musicke.

Not only that, we get some excellent renditions of standards like the title song, Miserere Mei. It’s a popular song so, like everyone, I have a lot of versions of it and this one is really good. The soloist, little Barnaby Lane, gets to show-off a bit with those high, long notes and the rest of the choir does some pretty complex sounding vocals.

Other popular songs by the Winchester boys are I Waited For The Lord, Salvator Mundi, and my favorite This Is The Record Of John with soloist Michael Liley. I tried to find some information about Michael Liley on the internet but came up blank. Sometimes he’s referred to as an alto and other times as a countertenor. I have no idea what the difference is, but I love his voice. It’s different.
The piece is divided into three sections, each beginning with a verse for the soloist followed by a full section, echoing words of the verse but in a beautiful and different way.

They also do, from Handel’s Messiah, the Hallelujah Chorus and For Unto Us A Child Is Born which I like better because I hear it a lot less frequently than Hallelujah, plus it has some really cool vocals.

The Christ Church Cathedral choir does Ave Verum Corpus by Mozart and that great Bach number, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.

The Seaford College Chapel has three numbers. The Lord Is My Shepherd and Abide With Me are beautiful and, while Parry’s Jerusalem is good, I have to say that I like Libera’s version better than any other that I’ve heard.

The boy choristers of the Seaford College Chapel Choir, aged from 11 to 18, some of whom are choral scholars from Cathedral and Music Schools, make up the four-part choir. The choir has performed in numerous capital cities: London, Paris, Washington, Moscow and more.As of 2001, the choir is mixed - with both male and female members, but this recording is from 1989.

Christ Church has been around since 1526 when John Taverner became Organist and Master of the Choristers. The present choir consists of sixteen boy choristers and twelve men.

This may be one of those CD's that is becoming hard to find. It seems to be out of production, but get one if you can.


  1. An "alto" would most likely be describing his voice as a boy; counter-tenor is the description of a man primarily singing with his head voice...think of it as a very strong, controlled falsetto. You can find hundreds of examples at YouTube...try searching "countertenor," first of all....the King's Singers are probably the most famous examples, though.

  2. Thanks, David. That's good to know, and I'm heading for YouTube now.

  3. I wonder if the choir from Winchester was recorded in their home. Winchester Cathedral has the longest nave in Britain--a vast acoustic engine for the treble timbre.

    Christ Church is awesome--I love Christ Church! Their recording of the lesser-known Bach Magnificat in Eb was my intro into treble choral music...the only trouble: they're so hard to find in the US...

  4. I checked the liner notes and looked on the internet but I can't find out if they recorded in the Winchester Cathedral. I'll bet they did, though.
    Remember the old song? "Winchester Cathedral, you're bringing me down, you stood and you watched as my baby left town..."