HAVPCD145 – ‘Jeremy Filsell at Ely Cathedral’
Gramophone Critics’ Choice 1992
HAVPCD148 – ‘Like the sun in his orb’ by Schola Gregoriana
Classic CD Best Plainsong on Disc 1994
HAVPCD151 – ‘Christmas in Royal Anglo-Saxon Winchester’ by Schola Gregoriana
Mitchell Beazley Best Medieval Recording 1994
HAVPCD155 – ‘Music from Renaissance Portugal’ by Cambridge Taverner Choir
Gramophone Critics’ and Editor’s Choice 1994
Nomination for Gramophone Recording of the year
HAVPCD157 – ‘Gregorian Chant Gaudete’ by St Cecilia’s Abbey, Ryde
Classic CD Best Plainsong on Disc 1994
HAVPCD170 – ‘Marcel Dupré Vêpres de la Vierge’ by Schola Gregoriana
Gramophone Editor’s Choice 1995
Alistair Warwick, Director of Music at Arundel Cathedral, reveals a few secrets about a company which has specialised in music spanning the Christian Centuries, as well as promoting new artists.
In recent years a number of small, specialist labels have been established catering for a particular needing the record-buying market. Gimell Records, for example, is effectively the marketing arm of the Tallis Scholars, whilst Priory Records specialises in the recording of European organs.
Founded in 1984, Herald AV Publications was set up as a specialist Catholic recording company. It serves both to promote established professional artists and to provide an outlet for new artists. Beginning with recordings of monastic chant, it now has over ninety titles in its catalogue, ranging from 10th century chant to 20th century organ music; from spirituals to traditional anthems; from youth and school choirs to music for centres of pilgrimage; from hymns with full brass accompaniment to Christmas carols.
Choirs appearing on the Herald labels include –
- Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge
- Cambridge Taverner Choir
- The Rodolfus Choir
Cathedral choirs from –
- St Chad’s
- Wellington Cathedral, New Zealand
Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge
Among the most successful artists on the Herald label are the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge, founded in 1975 by Mary Berry, a pupil of Nadia Boulanger, and a member of the Faculty of Music at Cambridge University. A specialist in Gregorian Chant, her particular interest has always been the evolution of styles in performance practice from the 10th century to the present day.
The ‘Cantors’ of the Schola Gregoriana, a group of young professional singers, have participated in concerts and also at Gregorian Chant festivals in France, Belgium, Italy and the United Kingdom, and have just returned from a very successful tour of Canada.
Vespers at Notre-Dame, Paris
Marcel Dupré’s Les Vêpres de la Vierge Opus 18, came into being as a set of improvisations played during a celebration of Vespers on 15th August 1919. Lying behind this event was a centuries-old living tradition of alternatim, i.e. of alternating the choral liturgy with organ versets.
On that day Claude Johnson, the General Managing Director of Rolls-Royce happened to be in the congregation, and, being a man of sensitivity and vision, was struck by the beauty of Dupré’s music. On trying to buy a copy he was told that it had been improvised and therefore not written down.
He promptly commissioned Dupré to try to recapture his original inspiration. The set subsequently appeared the following year and received performances in Rouen, and a concert performance in the Royal Albert Hall in the presence of the Prince of Wales.
Dupré’s music, superbly performed on this disc by Philippe Lefebvre, ranges from the majestic Dum esset rex to the highly evocative Nigra sum and Sicut locutus est, ending with the thrilling toccata Sicut erat in principio.
The matchless singing of the chanted psalms, the 9th century hymn Ave maris stella, the Magnificat and the final prayers by the Schola, with discrete accompaniment by David Hill leaves one with a feeling of spiritual enrichment.
Herald was founded by Brian Johnson but now consists of a number of engineers and production staff, as well as a full time editor. For the Notre-Dame project engineers Johnson and Ken Blair were joined by John Nuttall together with an assistant.
Before the recording could begin, a not insignificant part of the work entailed carrying the recording equipment hundreds of feet up to a small chamber behind the organ. Blair commented later that Quasimodo must have been a recording engineer.
The foundation of any Herald recording is the Calrec Soundfield microphone. This is often supplemented by specialist spot mics (AKG414ULS and Calrec 2050) when required.
Add a 12 channel mixer, computer based recording decks and Tannoy dual coincentric cone monitor speakers and you can appreciate what was humped up into the Gods!
The Soundfield microphone is a highly sophisticated recording system designed by UK engineers. Unlike an ordinary mic this one contains four identical electrostatic capsules set close together in a tetrahedral array enabling a two dimensional stereo image to be derived from a truly three dimensional combination of signals.
The microphone is controlled by the use of a remote control box which sets the horizontal angle, elevation and dominance. The four signals can be manipulated live during the performance or recorded separately onto four channels of a multitrack recorder for re-mixing at the post-production stage. In short, the Soundfield mic is a clever (and very expensive) box of tricks giving a superb stereo image with a good ‘feel’ for the building’s natural acoustic – a factor which has greatly contributed to Herald’s success and reputation.
A third tape of music for the Arundel & Brighton pilgrimage has just been released as well as a disc of music by Bax and Villette. With the basic philosophy of recording liturgical music in context wherever possible, a reconstruction of Midnight Mass from 13th century Rouen has been recorded in Arundel Castle chapel. It features the Schola Gregoriana together with the Choristers of King’s College, Cambridge under the direction of Stephen Cleobury.
A second disc of Portugese polyphony by the award-winning Cambridge Taverner Choir is eagerly awaited.
Copyright: Alistair Warwick 1995 (C)