Clive Osgood’s Sacred Choral Music (CR049)
Review by David Reznick, Fanfare
These days, if people decide that they want a career in music but recognize that they are not likely to reach the heights as an opera singer, conductor, or pop star, they can get a teaching certificate. Music as a public school discipline may be on its way out, but that hasn’t happened yet. Schools still include it in their curriculum, and they need people who can teach it. It provides a secure living, the pay’s not terrible, and you gets lots of holidays. And you can prepare Christmas programs and spring concerts, conduct in front of an enthusiastic audience, and pretend you’re Bach in Leipzig. True, many of your employers (principals, board members) don’t know what you’re doing, nor do they care a great deal. (I taught vocal and general music for many years, and judging by the number of times any principal came in to observe me, I could have been sacrificing lambs in that classroom.) But it was a career in music, and I don’t regret a minute of it. And since I am a composer, I had choirs who “consented” to sing my music; and some of those high school choirs were pretty good.
But today, as in the Baroque era, you can usually find paid musicians in just about every large church. Many are excellent, and their reputation grows in their communities as their performances improve. Now, as then, you’re not likely to find the next Bach at the neighborhood church; but you can find many directors whose repertoire and performance standards are very high, and composers as well.
Clive Osgood, born and educated in England, is currently the Director of Music and Organist at the Parish Church of St. Bartholemew’s in Haslemere, Surrey. And he is a man whose accomplishments exceed his fame. This recording provides a generous sample of his scared choral music. While listening to it, I started to wonder whether it was remotely possible that we are running out of patience with a century of atonality and are at the new beginning of consonance. Could it be? I mean, here is a CD which I assume costs money to manufacture and sell. The composer is still living and writing music. And—the music is quite beautiful. I think it’s the kind of music that many people want to hear when they go to church; indeed, it’s the reason that many people go to church at all. It’s immediately attractive, low-key, contemplative, and moving. The choir and orchestra are first rate, and the sound is excellent throughout. It will make you feel better. What else do you want for your pounds or shillings?
I’m not sure how this obscure composer will make contact with the thousands of people who would enjoy this disc. But I hope he does. And don’t say I didn’t tell you about it.
David Reznick, Fanfare, January 2020