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CD Review

The Feast of St. Michael and all Angels at Westminster Abbey

Robert Quinney, organ
The Choir of Westminster Abbey/James O'Donnell
Hyperion CDA67643 73m DDD
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Of all the great angel saints worshipped by Christendom, St. Michael is without doubt one of the most popular and venerated. The reason is simple as according to the Book of Revelations, St. Michael defended God's righteousness against Lucifer's rebellion and drove the latter out of Heaven.

He has, from time immemorial, become associated as the main protector from Satan's snares and his feast, which falls on the 29th September, is celebrated with great pomp and devotion. This superb disc contains music one might hear if a visit to Westminster Abbey is made on the day in question. The programme's wide spectrum reflects the structure of the three major choral services dedicated to St. Michael's Feast Day which are based on the traditional worship familiar in the monastic era: Matins (Morning Prayer), Eucharist (or Mass) and Evensong (Evening Prayer).

Of the ten composers featured, only one, Richard Dering hails from the 17th century. The remaining nine are the product of the 19th and 20th centuries, and one finds such eminent names as Stanford, Britten, Vaughan Williams, Tippett, Langlais and even Herbert Howells.

O'Donnell and his choristers perform with precision and eloquence, and the polyphonic aspect of the music comes to the fore with unmistakable clarity. Notes, sound and presentation are first rate.

Copyright © 2008, Gerald Fenech