The Academy of Great St. Mary's | Resurrection

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Classical: Choral Music Spiritual: Hymns Moods: Spiritual
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by The Academy of Great St. Mary's

A stunning set of works with the full sound of choir, organ and orchestra performed by the Academy of Great St. Mary's in Cambridge, UK, each work with a common theme of the cycle of life and the eternal soul.
Genre: Classical: Choral Music
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. O Mortal Man
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3:02 $0.99
2. Like as the Hart Desireth the Waterbrooks
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5:30 $0.99
3. Life Cycle
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12:53 $1.49
4. The Lord is my Shepherd
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4:12 $0.99
5. Martyrdom of Latimer
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8:35 $1.99
6. Lo, the Full Final Sacrifice
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14:29 $1.99
Available as MP3, MP3 320, and FLAC files.


Album Notes
O Mortal Man - (Herbert Howells 1892-1983)

O Mortal Man is a setting of the Sussex Mummers’ Carol (first collected and notated by
Lucy Broadwood in 1908). It is a slightly mysterious work that seems only to have come
to light within the last twenty years. In the 1990s, Christopher Palmer produced the first
edition from the almost-complete manuscript source in the library at the Royal College of
Music. When this disc was being recorded, it became clear that further consultation of
the source was necessary, and, as a result, Sam Hayes produced the edition that is
heard here, with great gratitude to Palmer’s earlier work. The present reading corrects a
few small errors found in the earlier edition, provides a slightly different completion of the
missing final bars and offers occasional alternative readings of the string voice-leading,
sometimes unclear in the source. It also suggests text for the charming inner verse for
four-part choir. The source gives no text for this verse, but seems to suggest the
placement of certain syllables using slurs. The original carol has at least seven verses,
but Howells’s manuscript for O Mortal Man suggests that the harmonisation of the inner
verse should only be used once. The middle verse recorded here seemed the most logical
choice, and complements the other two verses admirably. The date of the work is unclear,
but a superficial comparison with the Four Anthems of 1941 suggests it may date from
a similar period.

Like as the Hart Desireth the Waterbrooks - (Herbert Howells 1892-1983)

Composed in Cheltenham in early 1941, this setting of psalm 42 is one of a collection
of four anthems written at this time, the other three being O pray for the peace of
Jerusalem, We have heard with our ears O God, and Let God arise. The choice of texts
is perhaps telling, as Howells’s temporary residence in Cheltenham came as a result of
his London home being bombed out in late 1940. Like as the hart is an acknowledged
choral classic, combining Howells’s trademark expansive melodies with his distinctive
harmonic language, tonal and approachable, but not without a few more daring chromatic
moments. Particularly striking is the warm, singable opening theme for tenors and basses
in unison, the hauntingly ethereal soprano writing particularly in the divided section towards
the end, and the reverent repose of the final bars.

Life Cycle - Adam Pounds (born 1954)

The Life Cycle was first composed as a piece for dance in 1992. At this stage it was
written as a short piece for a chamber ensemble of seven players. After a successful
performance (with dancers) at the Chelmsford Cathedral Festival, the composer decided to
extend the work and transcribe it for full orchestra. In its first transformation, the piece
included a part for synthesizer but this was later discarded. Although programmatic, the
‘Life Cycle’ is perhaps one of the most experimental and abstract of Pounds’ work. The
opening was re-written in 2010 and describes ‘a beginning’. The music then passes through
different stages – birth, the joy of life (depicted by a minimalist section), stress and finally
death (the music being a mirror image of the opening) followed by the ascension of the
spirit. There is much use of exciting rhythms with virtuosic demands made on all sections
of the orchestra. The percussion in the piece includes randomly tuned drums adding to
the primitive, distant aesthetic of the work.

The Lord is my Shepherd - Lennox Berkeley (1903-1989)

Lennox Berkeley began composing at a young age but initially the idea of making his
living as a professional musician was not apparent. He studied Modern Languages at
Oxford and it was here that he wrote his first published work. The composer Ravel,
suggested that Berkeley should study composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. This he
did and she had a profound effect on his development both personally and as a composer.
The ‘Lord is my Shepherd’ is a relatively late work and represents Berkeley at his most
lyrical. It was commissioned to mark the 900th anniversary of the foundation of Chichester
Cathedral and was first performed in 1975, the year that Berkeley became president of
the Performing Right Society. The piece features a fine and memorable treble solo as well
as convincing word painting

The Martyrdom of Latimer - Adam Pounds (born 1954)

Composed to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Ely Sinfonia, this work explores the
final days of the cleric Hugh Latimer’s life, his death at the stake and his martyrdom. In
order to give a sense of period modal themes and liturgical ideas are combined with strong
rhythmic statements. The opening music is based on that of the Tudor composer Robert
White, who was Master of the Choristers at Ely Cathedral. After a strong bell-like statement
from the full orchestra, a flowing liturgical figure is introduced. There then follows an adagio
that features an oboe solo in which the isolation of the character can be felt. The music
then rises in tension representing the execution of Latimer and the following bass and tuba
interventions utter the final death throws. The harmony then changes in nature to a more
ethereal character and heralds the four trumpet parts. In the original performance, two of
the players are sited in the gallery in order to exploit the special acoustic of the cathedral.
The composer was asked to explore the concept of resurrection in the piece and to this
end he has designed a coda which employs material earlier heard in the work that
represents Latimer’s character. After a short chorale-like figure in the brass the opening
music returns in a more extended and assertive form. This is intended to reinforce the
concept that in death, Latimer became more powerful and therefore ‘alive’.

Lo, the Full Final Sacrifice - Gerald Finzi (1901 - 1956)

Lo, the full, final sacrifice (Op. 26) was commissioned by the Revd Walter Hussey for the
53rd anniversary of the consecration of St Matthew’s Church, Northampton. Finzi
orchestrated the piece for its performance at the Three Choirs Festival in 1947, and the
reduced orchestration heard here is by Jonathan Rathbone, with support of the Finzi Trust.
The text is assembled from two poems of Richard Crashaw (c. 1613-1649), an English
poet of the Metaphysical tradition of John Donne and Thomas Traherne, ‘Adoro Te’ and
‘Lauda Sion Salvatorem’. These constitute poetic translations of Latin hymns by St Thomas
Aquinas (c. 1225-1274). Finzi did not set the entirety of both poems; he instead excerpted
and re-ordered selected stanzas from Crashaw’s original to create a composite text for the
work. The music of the piece is typical of Finzi’s style - expansive, colourful, with
suggestions of nostalgia and longing. The highly sectionalized form follows the stanza
divisions of the text, featuring episodes of homophonic textures as well as short stretches
of polyphony. The choral forces are used in a very varied way, ranging from unison and
two-part writing to the luxurious 8-part Amen at the end of the piece.


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