Jump to content
Mander Organs
Clavecin

Bbc Choral Evensong

Recommended Posts

Did anyone else listen to yesterday's broadcast of choral evensong from St Thomas 5th Avenue?

 

I thought that 'chorally' it was the best service they have broadcast for quite a while.

I particularly liked the unhurried way they sang Psalm 73, it sounded exactly like the St Paul's choir 'house style' on the Hyperion series of Psalms which JS did in the 90's (I get a lot of pleasure from these CDs), St Thomas sang the same 2 chants actually.

It's good to hear JS doing good things with his choir 'across the pond' as they say.

 

If you missed it, you can catch it again on Sunday.

 

DT

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Did anyone else listen to yesterday's broadcast of choral evensong from St Thomas 5th Avenue?

[snip]

If you missed it, you can catch it again on Sunday.

 

DT

 

As must surely be well known, you can catch it at any time for seven days after broadcast with BBC iPlayer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As must surely be well known, you can catch it at any time for seven days after broadcast with BBC iPlayer

 

Yes, but what's the sound quality like now, it used to be dire!

 

DT

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yes, but what's the sound quality like now, it used to be dire!

To me, it seems better than its predecessor: the Listen Again player.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
To me, it seems better than its predecessor: the Listen Again player.

 

Hi

 

The BBC player sounds tolerable, but there are still comprssion artifacts - listening to the repeat (preferably via Sky) will produce a far better sound, assuming you have good speakers, etc.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Psalm singing and the pointing of psalms for singing to Anglican chant is very subjective and no two people every seem to agree. I gave up on the Hyperion series of St Paul's chois singing the entire new psalter edited by John Scott very early on because I thought it was the worst pointing I had ever heard. As I said, though, purely personal taste and preference!

 

Malcolm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A regular listen on my ipod is the first choral CD I ever bought. Its a reissue of an Kings/Willcocks Psalms LP and I don't think it can be beaten. Fresh, invigorating, lots of nuance in the presentation of the text, yet sounds entirely natural and unfussy. I also like the closeness of the recording, no swimming acoustics!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I also like the closeness of the recording, no swimming acoustics!

Quite so: it was recorded in Trinity College Chapel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A regular listen on my ipod is the first choral CD I ever bought. Its a reissue of an Kings/Willcocks Psalms LP and I don't think it can be beaten. Fresh, invigorating, lots of nuance in the presentation of the text, yet sounds entirely natural and unfussy. I also like the closeness of the recording, no swimming acoustics!

 

Hear, hear!

 

Stephen Barber

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My all-time favourite psalm recording is of John's (under George Guest) singing Psalm 49 to the Walmisley double chant in F. Absolutely beautifully pointed and sung. The accompanist was John Scott who, using the same chant, later totally butchered the Psalm with his awful pointing in the new St Paul's book.

 

Malcolm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quite so: it was recorded in Trinity College Chapel

 

I'm a little chastened that after all this time, I hadn't noticed the very small print on the inside cover where this is mentioned, thank you for pointing it out. I'm assuming you have the same CD? You can't beat the opening of PS122 to that Woodward chant that starts the CD.

 

The CD is titled Psalms of David Vol 1 (rec 1969), were there further volumes on LP that EMI have yet to trawl through?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The accompanist was John Scott who, using the same chant, later totally butchered the Psalm with his awful pointing in the new St Paul's book.

 

Malcolm

 

I'm sorry to quote you on this, but in my opinion I think that you are wrong in saying that about the St Paul's Psalter. I do rather enjoy psalms and, depending on what mood I'm in, sometimes think the psalm(s) are the best part of the liturgy. I'm almost (but not quite) embarrassed to say that I have the complete Priory, complete Hyperion (St Paul's), King's Cambridge, Westminster Abbey and John's Cambridge recordings of the psalms - particularly to hear different interpretations of such familiar texts.

 

I hope you don't mind me doing so, but I pick you up on your point for two reasons:

  • Wouldn't it be awfully boring if every choir did the same pointing;
  • Quick moving harmony doesn't work in an acoustic like St Paul's.

If you look closely at the St Paul's Psalter (or listen to the recordings if you don't have the Psalter to hand) you'll notice that John Scott stretches out the bars of the chant within the line of the text so that the same chord is held for longer, for example:

 

11. Tush say they * | how should · God per- | ceive it :

 

whereas somewhere like Winchester Cathedral sing

 

11. Tush say they * how should | God per- | ceive it :

 

As I'm sure you're aware, the strong syllable of the word needs to come at the beginning of the bar, and therefore John needed to find the next best word to change on earlier in the line, if you see what I mean.

Also, the tempi at which the St Paul's Psalter was recorded makes the pointing work, whereas if a choir sang the same pointing at speech rhythm the pointing wouldn't make any sense.

 

Lets not forget that the St Paul's Psalter was written for use in the liturgy in the Cathedral, and not specifically for the Hyperion recordings where the microphones are only a few feet away from the choir. People attending a service in St Paul's are often at a long distance from the choir and therefore if the conductor isn't careful with his choice of tempi the words can easily get lost in the acoustic. The words are meant to be heard by all, not just by those who got there early enough to be sitting near the choir stalls.

 

The sheer amount of word painting from the organ, the famous St Paul's acoustics, the clarity of the words, the beautiful choice of chants, the vast amount of drama gained from the huge amount of dynamics and different speeds dependent on the mood of a particular psalm, and the fantastic ensemble makes this complete recording of the psalms by John Scott one of the best on the market in my opinion, and the 12 discs take a proud place on my iPod.

 

Love it or hate it, I think these recordings deserve to be heard by all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm sorry to quote you on this, but in my opinion I think that you are wrong in saying that about the St Paul's Psalter. I do rather enjoy psalms and, depending on what mood I'm in, sometimes think the psalm(s) are the best part of the liturgy.

 

I thoroughly agree with Richard on this one, and think he has made the point perfectly.

Yes, John Scott's pointing can be somewhat fussy where individual chords or bars are omitted from the chant, but I find the moving of the chant forward on early strong syllables, and the measured singing style necessary to convey this properly, very satisfying indeed.

 

I purchased a copy of the St Paul's Psalter to go with the CDs. JS began the revisions to the pointing after the Hyperion series had begun, so although the chants used on the first couple of CDs are the same as the new Psalter, the actual pointing in different.

 

Good to hear from you on the Forum Richard, I don't suppose you have as much time to look at it in your new position.

 

DT

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If you look closely at the St Paul's Psalter (or listen to the recordings if you don't have the Psalter to hand) you'll notice that John Scott stretches out the bars of the chant within the line of the text so that the same chord is held for longer, for example:

 

11. Tush say they * | how should · God per- | ceive it :

 

whereas somewhere like Winchester Cathedral sing

 

11. Tush say they * how should | God per- | ceive it :

 

As I'm sure you're aware, the strong syllable of the word needs to come at the beginning of the bar, and therefore John needed to find the next best word to change on earlier in the line, if you see what I mean.

Also, the tempi at which the St Paul's Psalter was recorded makes the pointing work, whereas if a choir sang the same pointing at speech rhythm the pointing wouldn't make any sense.

 

Personally, I prefer the second, which I would suggest makes better sense. I am also unconvinced that, simply because the psalms are sung more slowly (notwithstnding the acoustic), they make more sense of the pointing.

 

The sheer amount of word painting from the organ, the famous St Paul's acoustics, the clarity of the words, the beautiful choice of chants, the vast amount of drama gained from the huge amount of dynamics and different speeds dependent on the mood of a particular psalm, and the fantastic ensemble makes this complete recording of the psalms by John Scott one of the best on the market in my opinion, and the 12 discs take a proud place on my iPod.

 

Sorry, I agree with Vox; having had to play from this psalter on a number of occasions, I think that many of the chants are, at best, pedestrian. In addition, the Priory set also contain a wealth of dynamic contrasts, nuance of expression and (generally) clarity of the words.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Roffensis
Yes, but what's the sound quality like now, it used to be dire!

 

DT

 

 

LOL< and even on DAB the sound quality still is dire. Very.

 

R

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Moving on from Psalms-and imho no one accompanys better than John Scott Whiteley- I see that Dobsons have won the contract to build a new chancel organ and St Thomas's 5th Ave and they have also won the contract to build a new chancel organ in Washington National Cathedral. Casavant Freres will build a west end organ in the French style for WNC.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...a new chancel organ in Washington National Cathedral...

 

Hang on a minute, in the excellent booklet notes to the latest Latry CD from there, they already have:

 

Skinner (1938) with

-Great Division

-Swell Division

-Swell String Division

-Choir Division

-Solo Division

-Pedal Division

 

Musician's Gallery Divisions, Skinner (1963)

-Brustwerk

-Positiv

-Pedal

 

What will 'another' organ add?

 

BTW, if anyone knows this organ, what does the 'Pedal Keyboard Elevator (Raise/Lower)' dp?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BTW, if anyone knows this organ, what does the 'Pedal Keyboard Elevator (Raise/Lower)' dp?

 

I believe the pedal board is on some sort of lift and can be adjusted up and down, presumably to suit the length of the player's legs.

 

It's interesting to note Ruffatti have adopted a slightly different solution on their new organ at Uppsala Cathedral by motorising the whole upper half of the console (manuals and stops) allowing a height adjustment of several centimetres up and down.

 

The next 'must have' will surely be heated benches.

 

JS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I believe the pedal board is on some sort of lift and can be adjusted up and down, presumably to suit the length of the player's legs.

 

This is a good idea. I'm just over 6'2" and in some places I've played, even with the bench at its lowest setting, my legs don't fit comfortably under the console. Does anyone know if such a gadget appears on other organs?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The next 'must have' will surely be heated benches.

JS

A Scandinavian builder may well develop these. After all, Volvos have been fitted with heated seats for about 30 years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Roffensis
To me, it seems better than its predecessor: the Listen Again player.

 

 

Apologies. I was referring to Digital broadcasting on Radio 3. A pretty low bit rate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I see that Dobsons have won the contract to build a new chancel organ and St Thomas's 5th Ave

 

My wife and I 'did' New York for our joint 50ths a couple of years ago and attended the Sunday Choral Evensong at St Thomas's.

 

JS's choir sang extremely well then we were treated to an excellently performed recital by the 'associate' organist Jeremy Bruns - half an hour of Bach on the Taylor & Boody on the west gallery followed by half an hour of romantic music on the Skinner culminating in Rawsthorne's Hornpipe Humoresque.

 

The new organ sounded very fine indeed, but I can't say that I liked what I heard of the Skinner either in the service or the recital. There was little warmth and it tended to shout as the volume increased. There didn't seem to be any quiet/refined solo voices.

It's not a particularly big church, just nave and chancel with no transept, so the acoustics aren't particularly great; any organ up in the chancel is going to have a hard job!

 

We also gate crashed a celebrity funeral at St. John the Divine - but that's another story!

 

DT

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...