Thus Angels Sung
£5.99 – £9.99
About this release
“There is absolutely no rhyme or reason behind the selection of pieces on this recording, and this is intentional. Every piece was chosen at random, simply because I happened to like them and wanted to record them.”
I have been lucky enough to have had a recording career that started over forty-five years ago, having made my first recording for His Master’s Voice, with King’s College Choir in 1967. Since then I have made some 180 recordings, stretching from black discs through tape cassettes, to CDs. Actually, I made my original demo recording on a wax disc, and this was sent to David Willcocks in Cambridge for his approval.
At the end of a recording career there are always pieces lurking at the bottom of the barrel that you wanted to record, but somehow they never seemed to fit into the scheme of things. So here are those ‘Odds & Ends’ and I have to admit they make a very disparate collection. The only pieces actually written for counter-tenor are the three songs by Malcolm Archer and the little Grace before Dinner by Christopher Moore. Other pieces have been transposed and rearranged to suit my voice.Read more
I’m sure Vaughan Williams would have written for counter-tenor had he lived longer. After all, he loved all things Elizabethan and the Tallis tune that he immortalised in his Fantasia would have been sung by an all-male choir. I remember singing Dirge for Fidele as a boy treble. Obviously, Britten had to be represented, as this recording was made in his Anniversary Year, but who would think of including Thomas Attwood? Once again, I hark back to my chorister days, when I sang both pieces, probably not very well. Attwood studied with Mozart, who bullied him, but there’s something of the Master in his music, and the result is quite touching.
The mediaeval world, apparently, believed that angels sang in the Alto register, so it seems appropriate to use the title Thus Angels Sung for such a collection.
To me, the choice of venue for a recording is most important. I detest singing in an anonymous, dreary studio, although I exempt the EMI Abbey Road Studios from this stricture.
A church is always infinitely preferable, away from traffic and aircraft noise. I don’t mind if it’s old and damp as long as there is some sort of atmosphere. Blythburgh church in Suffolk is ideal. When this recording was first proposed, I had reservations about recording in Portsmouth Cathedral. It was not a building that I knew and I imagined a lot of intrusive noise from the docks and shipping in general. But it has proved a wonderful place to record, with perfect acoustics and its own very special atmosphere. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to work in this friendly place.
(James Bowman, 2013)