It has to be said that Malcolm Archer writes “exceedingly good tunes” and this CD demonstrates this to the full: listen to Carol of the stable or A Harvest Anthem, for example. Although he has spent the major part of his working life in cathedrals, Archer knows what parish choirs can achieve and will enjoy singing. All the music performed here is published by the RSCM.
Not all the melodies are Archer’s own; Alaw Werin’s haunting melody to Suo Gân is given a sensitive arrangement for upper voices (here sung in Welsh, but Archer has written an English text with a Christmas flavour) and Lowell Mason’s tune to Nearer, my God, to thee is given a similar treatment, for SATB.
The traditional tune to Eternal Father, strong to save is effectively elaborated for the final verse of Anthem for Seafarers.
The young voices of Convivium Singers do full justice to the music and the sound is always focussed and has pinpoint intonation, although I do find the recording a little distant and this does not do justice to diction. David Price’s accompaniments are excellent; supportive, but never overwhelming; subtle, but always an essential part of the overall sound. The programme here shows the variety of Archer’s output and it is not surprising that many of the pieces are commissions. I am sure that A Harvest Anthem, a setting of Fred Pratt Green’s thought-provoking text, and In War, Resolution, based on Winston Churchill’s lines will soon appear on many church and cathedral music lists.