Thursday, 15 October 2015

van Wilder - Complete Works - Cantores/Allinson

Rating: 4/5

Interesting and worthwhile

This is a disc of music by an almost-forgotten composer at Henry VIII's court, who was extremely influential in his day. It is very good music and David Allinson deserves great credit for ensuring that his surviving music – all of which is on this disc – is available. I do have my reservations about the performances, however.

The music itself is very distinctively Tudor with its emphasis on resonant sonority, and is very lovely in places. It doesn't have the real inventiveness and power to move that composers like Taverner, Ludford Sheppard and others do, but it is well worth hearing and preserving and I am very glad to have it.

I don't think the music is done full justice by the choir. They are perfectly competent, with good intonation and a decent blend, but I don't find a lot of engagement with the text or sense of spirituality here. They EMPHasise the FIRst SYLLable of a PHRAse rather too much, for example, and the overall sound is just a little indistinct and mushy, so that it becomes all a bit samey after a while. It's not bad, but it lacks the real expressiveness and depth that the music deserves.

I don't want to be too critical because this is a very worthwhile project and it's decently executed on the whole – it just could have been significantly better, I think. Nevertheless, I can still recommend this as an interesting release which has significant merit

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