- Run Time: 78.59
- Release Date: 2013
- Label: Naxos
- ASIN: B00G0M6UNI
David Briggs & Jeremy Filsell: Choral Music
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- Tomorrow shall be my dancing day Jeremy Filsell3:35
- Epitaph, “Here shadow lie” Jeremy Filsell4:07
- If God build not the house Jeremy Filsell8:09
- Magnificat, “Windsor Service” Jeremy Filsell4:32
- Nunc Dimittis, “Windsor Service” Jeremy Filsell3:49
- The Transfiguration Jeremy Filsell5:23
- Te Deum, “Windsor Service” Jeremy Filsell9:19
- Jubilate, “Windsor Service” Jeremy Filsell2:19
- Pange lingua David Briggs 6:13
- Organ Improvisation on Tantum Ergo David Briggs4:48
- Messe pour Saint Sulpice: Kyrie David Briggs5:26
- Messe pour Saint Sulpice: Gloria David Briggs9:26
- Messe pour Saint Sulpice: Sanctus David Briggs3:37
- Messe pour Saint Sulpice: Benedictus David Briggs3:05
- Messe pour Saint Sulpice: Agnus Dei David Briggs5:11
This recording brings together two of today’s finest British organist/composers and includes specially commissioned works. Jeremy Filsell’s music is rooted in a long liturgical tradition and ranges from a poignant Epitaph to a Te Deum which recreates the spirit of William Walton’s glorious piece for the 1953 Coronation. David Briggs’s Pange lingua portrays the wonders of the Holy Communion in music, and his dramatic and grandiose Messe pour Saint-Sulpice also has moments of quiet, emotional profundity. The Vasari Singers’ Great British Anthems (8572504) has been described as “essential listening” (Gramophone).
- David Briggs & Jeremy Filsell: Choral Music – James Dance - ***** Fizzing with energy
In 2011 I picked up a copy of the David Briggs Messe pour Notre Dame, a recording that received rave reviews and personally blew me away. I reviewed that disc on Amazon back then and said I couldn’t wait for someone to record his other Mass, “Messe pour Saint Sulpice”. Well here it is, and it has been well worth the wait.
The disc is presented as a 50/50 split between two British organist-composers, Jeremy Filsell and David Briggs, both of whom now work Stateside, and this creates a lovely contrast of styles. Briggs’s beautiful anthem “Pange Lingua” opens his half of the CD in what is a true virtuoso performance of a rich, vibrant and complex anthem – commissioned and premiered by Vasari Singers and a real highlight of the CD. Following that is a short organ improvisation by Briggs, before the above-mentioned Briggs Mass concludes the recording in stunning style.
The opening half of the CD is taken with the music of Jeremy Filsell, again featuring new commissions, and Filsell’s cycle of Morning and Evening Canticles (Te Deum, Jubilate, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis) written for the choir of Windsor Chapel (where Filsell used to sing). The Te Deum in particular stands out with it’s Walton-esque references, intricate organ colour and floating soprano lines.
The Vasari Singers excel on this recording under Jeremy Backhouse’s direction and the audio quality is absolutely superb, with a wonderful balance between choir and organ throughout. Interesting to note the Producer Adrian Peacock also produced the Notre Dame mass so he must have an ear for Briggs’s music.
- David Briggs & Jeremy Filsell: Choral Music – Musicweb International - "I enjoyed this disc enormously and would urge music-lovers to buy it at once..."
This lovely CD was not at all what I expected. The image I had of church music was of a genre that is conventional and safe. Neither composer represented here falls into place on either count. I suspect many a church choir would see these pieces as very challenging.
The scene is set with Filsell’s Tomorrow shall be my dancing day which is lively and thoroughly entertaining and makes it obvious that the Vasari Singers are a very classy group indeed. The Epitaph which follows is also enjoyable and musically interesting including some lovely effects for double chorus. If God build not the house is again lively and has a positively triumphant opening. The organ part is not for the fainthearted. Here it is in safe hands, those of the composer himself, who is a virtuoso organist of the highest standard. The prayerful central section tickles the ear with unexpected harmonies. This is a big piece in every respect except length: it has a real sense of structure as well as scale. The ending is appropriately quiet and contemplative, setting the words ‘And draw the curtain to his sleep’. The registrations chosen by Filsell on the organ in quiet passages draw attention to the first class engineering of this spacious and true stereo recording: I say true because it sounds believable and accurate, high praise coming from me. Filsell’s canticle Magnificatis the first of four selections from his so called Windsor Service, and includes a highly ornamented organ part. One cannot but note the composer’s sensitivity to the words and he varies the music substantially given its short duration of less than five minutes. The canticle Nunc Dimittis treads slowly from quiet to loud music, again with extensive ornamentation in the organ part. The ending is triumphant. The Transfiguration is mostly slow music punctuated by a mixture of decorative figurations and dramatic outbursts from the organ. The biggest of Filsell’s pieces on this disc is the Te Deum. In this and the following Jubilate the composer aims for brevity and in common with the preceding pair of canticles the organ indulges in yet more decorative ornamentation. There are a lot of words to fit into a mere nine and a half minutes – think how long Berlioz and Bruckner took – but it never sounds rushed. Again Filsell displays much skill and imagination in reflecting the meaning of the words and uses the full dynamic range of these thirty excellent voices. The Jubilate contains appropriately joyful sounds from singers and organ ending with haloes of sound.
Briggs is no less absorbing a creative artist. The Pange lingua is a cappella, a commission from these singers. The crunching opening chord makes one really sit up. A beautiful, lyrical outpouring follows making many demands on the singers. The linked organ improvisation is serenely beautiful. The final work is also the most substantial. Briggs’ Missa pour Saint-Sulpice is almost twenty-seven minutes long: a big work with grand gestures but also much uncertainty. To my ears this music is not a confident expression of faith but a quest for understanding. The Kyrie is introduced by the organ with the choral appeals for mercy expressed quietly, quite unlike many mass settings. The Gloria proper, after theintonation, is introduced by the organ – and I should note that here too the organist is the composer, like Filsell, Briggs is a superb musician with a reputation to match. The Et in terra pax is a rather serious first statement before a big choral outburst on Laudamus te. Domine Deus is more pensive than confident. Again like Filsell, Briggs is very aware of the words and has a definite take on the meaning. The music grows more impassioned towards the Quoniam which is impressive and tense. The four lines of theSanctus text move carefully from muted praise towards a single cry of ‘Hosanna in Excelsis.’ This shows remarkable restraint when one considers how many ‘Hosannas’ get multiple repetitions elsewhere in the choral literature. This is a clever compositional ploy injecting a different feeling into the words. TheBenedictus is quiet and contemplative with a muted second Hosanna not at all like Bach or Vivaldi. TheAgnus Dei is very obviously an appeal for mercy: it grows in intensity through repetition and finally subsides to the last call for peace. Here Briggs gives the high voices a striking line to close the work.
I enjoyed this disc enormously and would urge music-lovers to buy it at once and wash away their preconceptions. I can’t say what it will do for their sins but it will grace their listening time.
- David Briggs & Jeremy Filsell: Choral Music – Classical Music Sentinel - Highly recommended.
This new recording presents fresh new choral works by two of today’s best composers in the field of liturgical music from the current generation of British composers, Jeremy Filsell (b. 1964) and David Briggs (b. 1962). Except for one, all of the pieces on this CD are world première recordings, which in itself adds considerable value to this release. A previous review of mine for another Mass by David Briggs (reviewed here), serves as a very strong indication of what style of music you will hear on this new disc. Both composers share an affinity with the great Renaissance masters, in that they infuse their music with a sense of mystery and awe, but do it by using a completely different palette of harmonic colours. And it’s when they paint outside the lines that they create the best effects and music of breathtaking beauty. The Filsell Nunc Dimittis and the Briggs Agnus Dei for example, both attain expressive emotional depths without having to resort to cliché gestures or trendy tricks. Solid, logically worked out music with a beating heart.
Both composers supply the role of organist in their respective works, which adds authenticity to the score, and the Vasari Singers under the direction of Jeremy Backhouse, certainly inject great fervour and expressive power within the music and in doing so, lift it off the printed page and bring it to life. Highly recommended for choral music fans looking for something new.
Classical Music Sentinel