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GRAMOPHONE ( Awards 2021 - 11/2021)
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Reviewer: Alexandra Coghlan

This follow-up to 2017’s ‘Threads of Gold’ reinforces much of what was good about the earlier release, as The Choir of York Minster continue their progress through the great anthems of the English Renaissance.

Under Robert Sharpe, the choir have developed a distinctive sound that’s markedly different from many of their rivals further south. Where others cultivate a more chesty, assertive quality in the treble singing, York are defined by a gentler haze of sound on the top line – not breathy but softly diffuse at the edges. The men of the choir balance to this softness, matching it with lean-back singing that’s minutely attentive to tuning and details of articulation.

It’s an approach well suited to Parsons’s filmy Ave Maria, smudging and twisting the edges of the winding, imitative lines into one another, and blurring the sterner perpendicular lines of Tallis’s If ye love me. But the lack of force and the resolutely tasteful delivery (which rarely serves up anything as vulgar as a crescendo) shows its limitations in more obviously emotive settings such as Tomkins’s When David heard and Byrd’s penitential Peccantem me quotidie, where things can feel chilly, remote, too similar in tone to the instinctively contrasting Sing joyfully.

It’s lovely to see some of the less frequently recorded verse anthems by Gibbons and Tomkins alongside the better known, and the choir field some particularly fine soloists in Praise the Lord, O my soul and See, see, the word is incarnate. Organist Benjamin Morris accompanies stylishly.

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