William Boyce: Ode for St Cecilia's Day


Information and Reviews

Graham Lea-Cox, Conductor

The Hanover Band 

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Product Details

Composer: William Boyce

Conductor: Graham Lea-Cox Conductor

Performer: Hanover Band,  New College Choir, Oxford et al.

Audio CD (April 25, 2000)


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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:

A stunning interpretation of a neglected masterpiece., 20 May 2001
Reviewer: A music fan
This is a long overdue recording of Boyce's long neglected masterpiece. Boyce brings together a wonderful combination of instruments and voices. Particularly beautiful are the duets between tenor and counter-tenor. The sensitivity, balance and the joyousness which permeates the whole recording is exquisite. Crucial is the choice of artists who achieve the perfect balance between fine orchestral playing and terrific colour in the singing (solos, duets and choral) to capture the spirit of the early 18th century - from the Hanover Band with their authentic period instruments, each of the soloists and the Choir of New College Oxford. There is not a single weak moment. Above all it is the feeling of spring joy which Boyce creates which will have you playing this fine recording over and over again.


Conductor's Note:

William Boyce composed two different Odes for St. Cecilia’s Day - the Ode for St Cecilia's Day, with a text by his friend John Lockman (recorded on this CD GAU 200) and another, the Ode on St Cecilia's Day, with a text by the Revd. Peter Vidal (recorded on GAU 208). In the same manner that he made two versions for London and Dublin of his Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day (Lockman), Boyce also composed two versions of David’s Lamentation over Saul and Jonathan (also to a text by John Lockman) - one for the London premiere in 1736 and one for the Philharmonic Society of Dublin in 1744.    In common with the other works in this series of recordings of Boyce’s masterworks for Sanctuary Classics, I have deliberately used copies of Boyce’s own parts, those used by him in the first performances with his own musicians, for our own performances and recordings.  Even recording producer, Martin Compton, works from copies of the18th century scores!  Although in the end this might seem rather superficial, the act of working with these beautifully written parts does give us a powerful and fascinating feeling of connection to the composer and his own musicians.

Boyce cleverly adapted his original London scores for the Dublin Society’s remarkable Dublin soloists by keeping most of the orchestral lines and rewriting as necessary the vocal lines. These Dublin soloists were the very same singers who would premiere Handel’s Messiah a year later.   They were all members of the two Cahedral Choirs in the city and included the remarkable high tenor, John Church, for whom Boyce rewrote several tenor numbers into a much higher tessitura.  As he re-wrote the score for the new singers, we can see the composer also make several subtle additions, such as adding strings and flutes in the recitatives, for stylistic and dramatic reasons.  Nevertheless, both versions have their distinct flavour and, in the case of the Lamentation, both have a distinctively powerful and dramatic beauty.  The Lamentation is a short work of extraordinary depth in which the composer uses the orchestra to vividly colour the tragic story as it unfolds.   This is intensely moving music, an extraordinary expression of grief contained in music of remarkable simplicity and assurance that leaves us to wonder at the maturity of this young composer, still only 24 years old.

Graham Lea-Cox