- O Worship the Lord in the Beauty of Holiness, for chorus & organ
This release is part of a series by the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, under director Graham Ross; each volume is devoted to a specific point in the Catholic liturgical calendar, in this case Epiphany. There's nothing terribly groundbreaking about the mix of music from, specifically, the 16th and 20th centuries, but all the releases have been well done, and this one is perhaps especially satisfying. The singular focus of the program adds to the listener's awareness of small details in the music, and on top of that, Ross picks pieces that are varied despite the seemingly small range. He offers some pleasant arrangements of traditional pieces that clear the palate, so to speak, in both the Renaissance and contemporary halves of the program. And instead of a sequence of stylistically similar, three-minute pieces, everything leads up to the finale, the luminous title work by Arnold Bax. Sample this for a taste of what this choir can do when it has all cylinders firing; the lush sound of Bax's choral polyphony (which inspired one critic to charge that "none of Bax's choral music can be described as devotional or even suitable for church use") has rarely been so richly rendered. Ross and the choir get excellent engineering support from Harmonia Mundi, working not in the choir's home base, but in a pair of other churches that fit the music extremely well. A fine release in the pure cathedral style.