Specialists in Classical Location Sound Recording

LOVE BADE ME WELCOME – Wadham College Chapel Choir (OXCD-147)

Directed by Katharine Pardee. Julian Littlewood (organ), with Anne Page (harmonium)

Messe Solennelle Louis Vierne
(Julian Littlewood: organ, Anne Page: harmonium)
1. Kyrie 2. Gloria 3. Sanctus 4. Benedictus 5. Agnus Dei

6. Magnificat, from the ‘Truro’ Service Gabriel Jackson
7. Love Bade me Welcome David Hurd
8. Ave Maria Robert Parsons
9. I will lift up mine eyes Leo Sowerby
10. My True Love Bob Chilcott
11. I Love my Love arr. Gustav Holst
12. Loch Lomond trad., arr. David Overton
Sonata no. 4, op. 61 Alexandre Guilmant
(Katharine Pardee: organ, Anne Page: harmonium)
13. i. Allegro assai
14. ii. Andante
15. iii. Menuetto: Allegretto
16. iv. Finale: Adagio-Allegro vivace con fuoco


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Whilst the Willis organ of 1877 was being restored in 2015 an 1867 French harmonium was purchased instead of hiring an electronic instrument. Here we hear one of Vierne's large-scale mass settings, Guilmant's sonata as originally written for harmonium, and some of the choir’s favourites which have featured not only in Sunday Evensong services, but also on choir tours.

Wadham College
Anne Page

MusicWeb International (Jun2019): This is a strangely mixed bag of pieces, some of which work very well and some of which do not. The title of the disc is derived from the famous if ambiguous poem by George Herbert, which is included here in an atmospheric setting made in 1995 by the American composer David Hurd. Another 20th century American work is Leo Sowerby’s setting of verses from Psalm 121. With its fresh-faced, clean-shaven sound, the choir of Wadham College Chapel makes the ideal sound for this kind of repertory, with Bryony Melvor a truly captivating soprano soloist whose diction is absolutely impeccable. Katharine Pardee’s carefully-shaped and neatly-tailored phrasing also brings out the essential simplicity and charm of these pieces, and in the Sowerby Julian Littlewood provides a wonderfully smooth and comfortable accompaniment on the chapel’s newly-restored Willis organ.
But the best single performance in my opinion is Robert Parsons’ well-known setting of Ave Maria. Here the choir traces the texture with such precision, such admirable tuning, such ideal balance and such obvious commitment that I rather wish they had confined themselves to early repertory rather than cast their net as wide as they have.
In the middle, there are pleasing performances of Holst’s I Love my Love and Bob Chilcott’s My True Love, although the bright polished sound and precisely manicured lines have the feeling of choir drilled for competition, with flawlessness of tone smothering any genuine sense of musical involvement. There is no doubt that this is a highly accomplished vocal group, and the technical challenges of Gabriel Jackson’s Magnificat with its little Celtic ornaments, are superbly met..... (selected extracts)

CLASSICALMUSICDAILY (July19): The Chapel Choir of Wadham College have chosen two contrasting themes in this recording, those of impressive Parisian splendour - of a 'sensuous nineteenth-century sound-world' as the cover notes put it - and that of a more intimate unaccompanied choral evocation. The choral sound is well produced, if at times lacking in cohesion, and the interpretations at the hands of Katharine Pardee are well handled. The music of Vierne and Guilmant is often fulfilling, and the choir complements the organ with a clear and capacious resonance.

CMQ (March 2020): The unique feature of this CD is the combination of organ and harmonium in the Vierne Messe Solennelle and again in Gui1mant’s Sonata no. 4. Does it work? Yes, in that the two instruments
are in tune with each other and the excellent players have good  synchronization. But with the Vierne, written for the two Cavaillé-Coll organs in Saint- Sulpice, is this recording with organ and harmonium (so different!) in line with the expectations of the composer or of today’s listener?
If you think that it might be, then do listen to this CD for the experience. As for the Sonata, Guilmant certainly wrote pieces for piano and harmonium. But organ and harmonium? What we have on this CD is an arrangement of the Fourth Sonata for the two instruments. Again, listen if curiosity leads you to want to experience it …… With Parsons' Ave Maria sung with commitment and assuredness, and pieces by David Hurd (the title piece of the CD) and Leo Sowerby adding to the listening pleasure. The choir is also impressive in the tricky ornamented chant of Gabriel Jackson’s Magnificat from his Truro Service. (selected extracts)

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