The Anthems (Volume 1)
The Choir of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge directed by Geoffrey Webber with Gavin Roberts & Timothy Uglow (organ)
Reviewed by: David Wordsworth
Reviewed: December 2001
CD No: PRIORY PRCD 754
There cannot be a church choir in the land that has not come across the music of Charles Wood at some time or another. His Anthems and Services are a staple part of the repertoire of every cathedral. As Geoffrey Webber points out, in his informative sleeve note, their gentle professionalism provide an interesting contrast to the more flamboyant settings by his close contemporary, the better known Charles Villiers Stanford. The note goes on to paint a rather sad picture of Wood – a lonely, unfulfilled artist who saw his church music as being of little interest; he longed to use his considerable gifts in the concert hall.
Nonetheless this selection of mostly short Anthems and organ pieces display Wood’s gifts for melody, a fine awareness of just what a choir can and can’t do, a contrapuntal freedom, and an admirable craftsmanship. Aside from the shorter anthems there are at least two more ambitious pieces worthy of further investigation – O King most high, and Tis the day of the Resurrection – more daringly chromatic and manipulating to great effect the resources of a double choir.
The performances are very pleasing – the Choir of Gonville and Caius College are obviously a well-drilled and dedicated group.