Following a critically acclaimed recording of music from the Eton Choirbook, More Divine Than Human (AV2167), The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford returns with a second volume from the vast collection of 15th-century English sacred music, Choirs of Angels. The works range from John Browne’s richly scored eight-part O Maria salvatoris mater, the first piece in the Eton Choirbook, to William Cornysh’s exquisite miniature Ave Maria mater Dei, the choirbook’s shortest work. The compositional range in the Eton Choirbook demands extraordinary virtuosity from its performers, and Stephen Darlington and his choir of men and boys do this glorious music tremendous justice.
… Christ Church proves again and again that its boys are up to the technical challenges thrown up by the music and it cedes nothing … in the emotional depth of its readings.
… superb tour de force under its insightful and disciplined director …
… the choir sings with unflagging radiance and poise.
International Record Review, September 2013
Clichés mostly exist for a good reason, so if I say that ‘Choirs of Angels’ both begins and ends on a high note you may interpret that as a tribute to the impressive breadth and assurance of these eternally spacious performances of mostly massive works by Browne, Davy, Lambe et al from the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, breathing the rarified atmostphere of late 15th-century polyphony with enviable ease.
Choir & Organ, July-August 2013
We hear relatively rarely the great and challenging repertoire of the 16th-century Eton Choirbook, sung by choirs of men and boys. This second volume of what one hopes will be a long series brings to five antiphons, each by a different composer, an abundant grace, sumptuousness and sense of space, with not a hint of frailty in the upper lines. The eight voice parts of John Browne’s ‘O Maria salvatoris mater’ are trumped by the nine of Robert Wylkynson’s ‘Salve regina’. Richard Davy, William Cornysh and Walter Lambe complete a highly desirable recital.
Sunday Times, 5 May 2013
This disc is so glorious in its sound and effects …
The boys … sound as they always have under Stephen Darlington, singing with confident, healthily open voices that allow them to ascend through phrases and create a gloriously soaring effect, especially in the magnificent acoustics of Merton College chapel … They also manage with admirable maturity the complicated rhythmic decorations and frequent harmonic voltes-faces …
… it is the mighty nine-part Salve regina by Robert Wylkynson that stands out on this disc … it is a great wall of early Renaissance sound right from the first statement of the ‘Salve regina’, which is so tenacious in its focus from beginning to end that it imparts a sense of power that one could only reasonably expect from adults.
Gramophone, June 2013
Hugely appealing…natural, spacious, rich, expressive performances.
The Sunday Times
They do a fantastic job and the soundworld is terrific.
BBC Music Magazine