- Ubi Caritas, for chorus
This release diverges in several ways from other collections of English cathedral music on the market. It succeeds at what it sets out to do, although the desirability of that will depend on your perspective. First, the album does deliver the promised 500 years of cathedral music, although the Baroque is underrepresented and the Classical era is not heard at all (and there's heavy emphasis on the Romantics). The premise that the English tradition is defined by music intended for these magnificent spaces is fulfilled. Second, the 60 voices of the St. Paul's Cathedral Choir offer an unusually well-controlled and lush sound. Third, and more unusually, they are amplified in four numbers by the Cathedral Choristers of Britain: 50 singers drawn from cathedral choirs across Britain. These include -- and here's the real first -- girls. That lends the music a strikingly wide spectrum of sound that may or may not fit the music, but will definitely catch your attention. Sample the opening track, the Handel anthem known as "Zadok the Priest," for the effect. The sound has startling clarity and depth. Doubtless the cathedral itself deserves the lion's share of the credit, but the cathedral's organ is captured in a frequency range that will put good sound equipment to the test. The concept may be a bit schlocky (especially in the reworked "A Gaelic Blessing" of John Rutter at the end), but "splendid" is also a word that may apply.