Harriet Clifford

Magnificat – Choral CD Review

11:17, 14th November 2019

Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge, Glen Dempsey (org) / Andrew Nethsingha (dir)
Signum Records SIGCD 588 [58:44]

This recording celebrates the special qualities of the Evening Canticles of Magnificat and Nunc dimittis through six contrasting settings, from Stanford to Gabriel Jackson, all of which hold some personal significance for Andrew Nethsingha. Starting with a noble account of Stanford’s Mag & Nunc in A, Nethsingha and his St John’s forces lead us through a fascinating hour’s music, not least for recognising how different each composer’s response to the same text can be.

The other settings are by Leighton (a particularly satisfying composition), Sumsion, Howells, Gabriel Jackson and Tippett – the latter’s well-known commission from George Guest to celebrate the College’s 450th anniversary in 1961. Throughout, the choir is on top form, with an exceptionally clear and forward tone. Former organ scholar Glen Dempsey matches the level of his colleagues’ achievements, proving himself to be a subtle and sensitive accompanist. Highly recommended.


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