Hyperion is delighted to present this latest CD from The Choir of Westminster Abbey under their inspirational director, James O’Donnell. They continue their exploration of the rich repertoire of the liturgy in its historical context in the Abbey with music for the Feast of the Ascension. Ascension Day is a particular moment of celebration within the annual round of Easter praise and is celebrated in glorious and triumphal language. The works recorded here represent a wide range of the best of liturgical music, starting from the intricate and joyful writing of the sixteenth-century composer Peter Philips and ending with fascinating and appealing pieces by living composers. Along the way are works from the great flowering of English cathedral music in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
“After seven years at the helm, James O'Donnell has made a formidable singing outfit of the Westminster Abbey Choir...The treble line is robust and thrilling, its soloist, Jacob Ewens, a sinuous star in Britten's Te Deum in E. The ensemble is well balanced in the polyphony of Philips's Ascendit Deus and confidently tuned in the awe-filled modernism of Gowers's Viri Galilei, while the organist, Robert Quinney, does more than his share in the dazzling accompaniments.” The Times, 26th April 2008 ****
“The choir of Westminster Abbey under James O'Donnell sing with the happy care which his choristers at the Cathedral used to bring to their work with him. If the echo calls attention to itself at the start, the ears soon adjust. They are not going to complain with so much to enjoy.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2008
“The boys might be singing Stanford's Caelos ascendit hodie, but they could just as easily be trilling ''Woohoo! It's Ascension Day!'' I love such musical joie de vivre, and not every choir is able to produce it convincingly as these chaps...this is Westminster Abbey Choir at their crystalline best, with spot-on pitching, enviable articulation and sympathetic phrasing.” Charlotte Gardner, bbc.co.uk, 18th April 2008