O Sing unto the Lord
Sacred music by Henry Purcell
Saint Thomas Choir, New York, Concert Royal, John Scott
Resonus RES10184. 54’03
O sing unto the Lord, Z44; Remember not, Lord, Z50; Jehova, quam multi sunt hostes mei, Z135; Evening Hymn, Z193; O God, thou art my God, Z35; Morning Hymn, Z198; I was glad, Z19; Hear my prayer, O Lord, Z15; Voluntary in G major, Z720; Te Deum in D major, Z232.
Following on from their recent issues of Bach and Rachmaninoff, Resonus continue their series of recordings from the Saint Thomas Choir, New York, under their conductor, the late John Scott, with this release of a 2010 recording of Purcell. The well-balanced programme includes major works for choir and orchestra, such as the substantial opening O sing unto the Lord, as well as more intimate pieces such as the Morning and Evening Hymns, here separated by the early anthem O God, thou art my God with its famous Hallelujah, later turned into the hymn Westminster Abbey. This amply demonstrated the extraordinary range of Purcell’s musical style and his harmonic inventiveness.
The choir is large, with around 25 boys and 16 adults, but they sing with an admirable sense of consort and cohesion. There are several solo moments for members of the choir, although some of the adult solos are rather too overlain with vibrato for Purcell’s musical lines to achieve the clarity they deserve. Very occasionally, those same voices can be heard within the choir consort, although the force of numbers reduces their effect. Of the boy soloists, Daniel DeVeau excels in the Morning Hymn.
John Scott adds an organ solo, the lovely Italianate Voluntary in G, adding several impressively inventive ornaments to the subdued first part before setting off at a pace for the second part. The impressive continuo organist for the other pieces is Frederick Teardo. The CD finishes with the powerful Te Deum, composed for St Cecilia’s Day in 1694 and, since 1698, a piece strongly associated with London’s St Paul’s Cathedral, John Scott’s previous appointment before moving to New York.