Music for the Coronation of James II, 1685

£12.00

With a stunning selection of choral music that is truly fit for a King, Andrew Gant leads the Choir of the Chapel Royal & The Musicians Extra-Ordinary to re-create the music that accompanied the coronation of James II and Queen Mary in 1685.

 

William Child Te Deum in E Flat
John Blow Behold, O God our defender
William Turner The King shall rejoice
Henry Lawes Zadok, the Priest
Henry Purcell I was glad, My heart is inditing
Thomas Tallis Litany

 

Recorded in the Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace, this disc is a perfect representation of one of the country’s most illustrious and historic musical institutions

SKU: SIGCD094

What people are saying

“The Performances are excellent”

The Sunday Telegraph

“The men and boys of the Chapel Royal under Andrew Gant bring history to vivid life. Recommended”

Classic FM Magazine

“This is a very interesting disc and worthy of the attention of all the devotees of seventeenth-century English music … On this disc the Choir of the Chapel Royal and the string, cornett, sackbut and organ players that accompany give them commendable performances … this disc is of particular merit because the singers are successors of the boys and men who formed the core in 1685 … (Recommended listening)”

Church Music Quarterly

The Choir of the Chapel Royal and
The Musicians Extra-Ordinary

Directed by Andrew Gant

Release date:1st Feb 2007
Order code:SIGCD094
Barcode: 635212009420

MuiscalPointers.co.uk, February 2007

The best of a new batch of Signum vocal CDs, this re-creation of music that accompanied the coronation of James II and Queen Mary in 1685 combines scholarship and superb presentation with the recording bringing into the home so atmospheric a feeling that I am tempted to go to the Chapel of St Jame’s Palace, which welcomes visitors on Sunday mornings.

The greatest music is, of course, Purcell’s two Odes (which you may have in the wonderful Hyperion collection) but the Te Deum of Willam Child is characterful, and the fine Behold, O God our defender of John Blow supports strongly Andrew Gant’s claim that this composer – uneven maybe because of ‘his enthusiasm for holding every senior musical position himself’ – is ripe for re-appraisal.

The scholarly essays include the menu for the Royal Feast, and the delightful photo of the Children of the Royal Chapel is only one of many illustrations. I have played this CD twice during the week received, and recommend it unreservedly.

Peter Grahame Woolf

The Sunday Telegraph, 11th March 2007

Nowadays it seems impossible to envisage a coronation service without Handel’s Zadok the Priest, but this recording of the music used at James II’s in 1685 suggests that Henry Lawes’s grand, solemn setting, complete with cornetts and sackbuts, made an impressive predecessor. Thanks to a contemporary chronicler, most of the music used can be identified. Much of it was supplied by Purcell, whose exultant My Heart is Inditing was sung during the queen’s crowning, and by John Blow, whose magnificent God Spake Sometime in Visions, with its gravely sonorous opening and martial trumpetings, accompanied the peers’ homage. Other attractive contributions came from the less well-known William Turner, whose strong and inventive The King Shall Rejoice suggests that his music merits further exploration.

The performances are excellent, but this is not an actual reconstruction of the ceremony, and, probably as a result of using a choir far smaller than the original one in very resonant acoustics, lacks the necessary sense of occasion.

Elizabeth Roche

Classic FM Magazine, May 2007, ****

The men and boys of the Chapel Royal under Andrew Gant bring history to vivid life. Recommended.

Andrew Stewart

BBC Music Magazine, May 2007
Performance ***, Sound ***

In an age decidedly partial to ‘reconstructions’, this is no Venetian coronation à la McCreesh, nor Georgian ceremonial as reimagined by Robert King. There are no drum fusillades, no regal fanfares, simply some of the music experienced by James II and his Queen on St George’s day 1685 – ahead of a coronation banquet comprising nearly 1,500 dishes including stags’ tongues and hot cocks-combs, How did Catholic James digest what amounts to a musical bill of fare embodying a pragmatic, sometimes utilitarian Protestantism? Henry Lawes’s Zadok is never going to knock Handel off his perch; William Turner’s setting of ‘The King Shall Rejoice’ is as workaday as the veteran Child’s Te Deum. And in truth Turner’s chant as applied to ‘Come Holy Ghost’ revels in a chromatic slide which can induce queasiness.

But there is remedy. The final 30 minutes unleashes Blow’s magisterial ‘God spake sometime in visions’, and, even better, Purcell’s incomparable ‘My Heart is Indicting’. Not surprisingly they inspire the choral heirs to that illustrious event to some of the most committed, characterful singing on the disc, the Blow concluded with some especially fervent Allelujahs. The Choir of the Chapel Royal might not sing with the effortless assurance of its rival all-adult ‘reconstructionists’, but the bright forthright verve carries an authenticity of its own.

Paul Riley

Church Music Quarterly, July 2007

This is a very interesting disc and worthy of the attention of all the devotees of seventeenth-century English music. The musical climax of the coronation of King James 2nd consisted of two of the most glorious pieces ever composed for such an event: Blow’s God spake sometime in visions and Purcell’s My heart is inditing. If you think if Purcell as the genius and Blow as a worthy, but infinitely less talented composer, God spake sometime in visions might challenge you to re-evaluate your opinion. It is a sumptuous composition that is the work of a highly fertile musical imagination and demonstrates Blow’s outstanding command of choral textures and his excellent sense of musical architecture that, in this instance, arguably outdoes Purcell’s.

In the context of this disc, the one drawback of God spake and My heart is inditing is that they put in the shade the works that precede them – even those by Blow and Purcell (except, perhaps, Purcell’s ‘verse’ setting of I was glad). In the coronation ceremony, different pieces had different functions and, lest we judge any of the compositions too harshly, it must be remembered that anthems like William Child’s O Lord, grant the king a long life were intended to be sung in procession. Some would say that Child’s greatest achievement was his longevity (he lived from 1606 to 1697), rather than his music, and it may have been in defence to his age that the Te Deum to one of his settings at the coronation of James 2nd. His Te Deum in E flat (the setting sung on this disc) is, in its elegant clarity, somewhat reminiscent of Gibbon’s Short Service.

Andrew Gant has had to be creative in assembling the music for the disc (see his formative programme notes for full details). He has chosen to use Tallis’s setting of the Litany (erroneously ascribed to Turner on p. 14 of the sleeve notes, but correctly ascribed to Tallis elsewhere);and the setting of Zadok the priest that Henry Lawes composed for the coronation of Charles 2nd. William Turner (1651-1740) contributed a setting of the hymn Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire. The music is lost, so Dr Gant has borrowed one of Turner’s chants. His anthem The king shall rejoice is also included. Turner was not only child-like in his longevity: his music is similarly of the second rank.

On this disc the Choir of the Chapel Royal and the string, cornett, sackbut and organ players that accompany give them commendable performances. For the coronation of James 2nd, the choir of the Chapel Royal was augmented by other singers. While more voices would have helped to give the performances a greater grandeur, this disc is of particular merit because the singers are successors of the boys and men who formed the core in 1685.

(Recommended listening)

  1. O Lord, grant the King a long life – William Child – [3.30]
  2. I was glad (solos: alto: James Bowman, tenor: Andrew Tortise, bass: Maciek O’Shea) – Henry Purcell – [8.12]
  3. Let thy hand be strenghtend – John Blow – [1.44]
  4. Litany (cantor: Andrew Tortise) – Thomas Tallis – [8.38]
  5. Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire – (chant by William Turner) – [2.28]
  6. Zadok the Priest (symphony constructed by Andrew Gant to Lawes’ bass) – Henry Lawes – [2.21]
  7. Behold, O God our defender – John Blow – [2.21]
  8. The King shall rejoice – William Turner – [2.29]
  9. Te Deum in E Flat – William Child – [6.03]
  10. God spake sometime in visions and said – John Blow – [12.54]
  11. My heart is inditing – Henry Purcell – [17.53]

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