The Choir of Westminster Abbey
Robert Quinney organ
James O'Donnell conductor
The Choir of Westminster Abbey and James O'Donnell continue their exploration of the rich repertoire of music for the great feast days of the church year with this recording of works for the Feast of St Michael and All Angels (29 September). The texts for Michaelmas are uniquely dramatic and visionary, describing the angelic host and the war in heaven, and have inspired composers throughout the centuries to create settings of thrilling immediacy. This fascinating disc presents the best of these works from a range of composers.
Included is most of the liturgical output of Sir Michael Tippett, whose joyful, extroverted compositional style and powerful sense of drama are perfect for the atmosphere of this festival. Langlais' tremendous Messe solennelle is unquestionably his finest piece of church music; radiant and impassioned, using the organ particularly brilliantly to create colour and emotional depth. Herbert Howells's A Sequence for St Michael is an excellent example of the mature style of the composer, an extended and substantial setting in which the Archangel's intercession is movingly invoked. These and more established favourites and rarities of the repertoire are performed here with characteristic verve and impeccable musicality.