The Stondon Singers at Brentwood Cathedral
Forsaking the familiar Blackmore Priory for the resonant box of Brentwood Cathedral, the Stondon Singers, directed by Christopher Tinker, presented an impressive programme of English Church music.
Beginning and ending with two majestic Handel coronation anthems – the substantial The King Shall Rejoice, and to start proceedings the ever-popular Zadok The Priest.
There was much intriguing cross-referencing: Parry's equally popular I Was Glad [glorious organ accompaniment from Stephen King] was contrasted with Purcell's more poignant setting, with the vocal parts blending beautifully in this acoustic. “Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem” was also heard in Herbert Howells' wartime setting. And Purcell's contemplative Hear My Prayer was set against Mendelssohn's Victorian version of the supplication, with Annabel Malton's pure soprano ringing thrillingly around the architecture.
E W Naylor's dramatic motet Vox Dicentis Clama, from 1911, was sung with admirable precision, the various voices clear and distinct.
The concert took its title from W H Harris's Spenser setting, written in 1925. It was good to hear the works presented uninterrupted, though we did miss the scholarly introductions, especially as there was little help in the programme.
The Stondon Singers are back on their home ground [St Peter and St Paul Stondon Massey] on July 1, for the annual William Byrd anniversary concert.