ST PETER'S DAY AT YORK MINSTER - Choir of York Minster - Robert Sharpe (Director) - David Pipe (Organ) - 802561043928 - Released: January 2015 - Regent REGCD439

1} Henry Purcell - Christ is made the sure foundation
2} David Briggs - Missa Brevis (2012)
3} Maurice Duruflé - Tu es Petrus
4} George Surtees Talbot - Psalm 150
5} Richard Shephard - Preces
6} Samuel Arnold - Venite
7} Francis Jackson - Psalm 71:1-6, 15-17
8} Charles Villiers Stanford - Te Deum Laudamus in C
9} Philip Moore - Jubilate Deo
10} Richard Shephard - Responses and Collects
11} Richard Shephard - And when the builders
12} William Henry Harris - Holy is the true light
13} Thomas Attwood - Psalm 138
14} Herbert Howells - Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis for New College, Oxford
15} Philip Moore - O quam gloriosum
16} William Walton - Coronation Te Deum

It goes without saying that most recordings produced and released by the Regent Records label in Britain are without a doubt some of the best available. After all they do specialize in Organ and Choral recordings, featuring the best choirs and organists, performing in various churches across England. This one in particular, captured in the historic York Minster Cathedral, a building with such a vast interior that it generates a sound that blooms, resounds and seems to reverberate through the ages, can't help but grab your attention. If you listen close enough you might even hear echoes of the music performed during its consecration in 1472.

Great sound is one thing, but without great music it's nothing. The main criteria I look for in any recording that will prompt me to recommend it and publish its review, is the music first and foremost. Doesn't matter how amazing a recording sounds. If the music isn't any good I don't see the point. It would be like sitting at the wheel of an exotic sports car that doesn't have an engine.

Although most of the music on this CD is the usual liturgical fare used in celebrating events like St. Peter's Day, what tipped the scale for me is the inclusion of the new Missa Brevis by organist and composer David Briggs. Ever since I heard his 'Mass for Notre-Dame' (reviewed here)), I've greatly admired his skills as a composer. His music contains elements of both the new and the ancient, and has a timeless feel to it. The organ never takes a back seat and always plays a critical role in its harmonic structure and deployment of forces. It was commissioned in 2012 specifically for the Choir of York Minster so this is its world première recording. In the booklet notes the composer himself writes: I wrote it with the huge and wondrous space of York Minster in mind - it is "big-building music". And it certainly is. Other highlights include the uplifting And when the builders composed in 1980 by Richard Shephard, the Tu es Petrus by Maurice Duruflé, the challenging O quam gloriosum by Philip Moore, and of course, the majestic and ceremonious Coronation Te Deum by the great William Walton, in which the pipe organ's "trumpet" stops make an impressive appearance. Written for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953, it was scored to include extra brass as well as an orchestra. Here it's heard in Simon Preston's arrangement in which the organ plays double duty, all masterfully executed by organist David Pipe.

If you like to hear choral music performed in its native environment and to submerge you in glorious sound, this will do it.

Jean-Yves Duperron - January 2015