handsoff Posted January 22, 2009 Author Share Posted January 22, 2009 I also agree with Malcolm. King's was at its peak under Willcocks. Whether you like his sound or not (I do, but I am also an enormous fan of Hill's recordings at Westminster Cathedral), the singing was never as meticulous before and has never been since. It is still an absolutely first rate choir, of course, but it is now just one among many and not necessarily the best. I'm with Vox on this. To me the sound of King's at the peak of its beauty is for me best exemplified by the Willcocks recordings of the Byrd 3, 4 & 5 part masses together with the Taverner "Le Roy" Kyrie (one of the best ever written IMHO) and "The Western Wynd" mass. The singing in this is, to me, perfect. The flowing individual voice parts in several sections are sung so crisply and with consummate empathy with the music. I really don't think that today's choir could come within a stone's throw of these 1960s performances. Then there are the definitive performances of Herbert Howells' canticles, RVW's Mass in G minor and , of course, Handel's Messiah. I will not willingly listen to any other recording of Messiah. How could the King's version be bettered? No warbling soprano (solo or chorus), a young James Bowman, Robert Tear and Ben Luxon with the choir doing the rest. The highlights for me have always been the superbly sung counter-tenor solos from JB performed with such verve, along with the choruses, of course. My 3 LP set was the first of my collection to go into honourable retirement when CDs began to infiltrate. The vinyls had been abused by, successively, Dansette, Garrard SP25, Fisher and finally Marantz decks (not that the Marantz, still in use, abused them much), and deserved their rest! The choir today seems unexceptional amongst its peers and the 2008 Christmas broadcasts left me feeling a little disappointed, as they have for several years now. I'm not exclusively a King's/Willcocks fan; the George Guest era at St John's was tremendously exciting both in the flesh and on disc. I loved the way Dr Guest could get the choir to produce an edgy tone for, let's say, Vittoria masses and then soften it to sing English music. I often did the "Sprint" between King's and John's evensongs and it was fascinating to compare the two choirs (and organs) in so short a period. I, like Vox, also admire Westminster Cathedral choir and have learned much from their recordings. P Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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