Review of Missa Omnes Sancti by Lindsay Koob –
American Record Guide (Jan/Feb 2010)
Here's another first-rate recording of sacred works by living composers from
one of America's finest church choirs; they're also one of America's
foremost standard-bearers for Episcopalian church music. All of the works
here—as in the previous album I reviewed from this group (Missa Orbis
Factor) have some sort of special connection to the cathedral, either via
commission or performance history. All of the works are for organ-supported
choir, save for Simon Preston's " Alleluyas', a stirring virtuoso piece for
The album's title piece—Malcolm Archer's Omnes Sancti Mass—is a compact, but
supremely effective setting of the standard mass, sans Credo. The emphatic
opening Kyrie immediately revealed distinct French stylistic echoes,
bringing Vierne's Solemn Mass to mind. After the bright Gloria, the brief,
light-hearted Sanctus leads directly into the like-toned, but even lighter
Benedictus. The hushed Agnus Dei is especially sweet and pastoral.
Before that, we hear very inspiring and accomplished shorter pieces by five
other composers. Quinn's own rarefied settings of the Magnificat and Nunc
Dimittis are heard first. Two fine pieces by Philip Moore follow: his bright
and triumphant 'Song of Christ's Glory' and the mostly quiet and stately
(until its final climax) 'He that is Down Needs Fear no Fall'. Between them
we get Peter Hallock's delicate and dreamy Evensong piece, 'The Lord is My
light'. Anthony Piccolo's delightful 'O How Amiable' starts out as a sort of
celestial dance, maintaining an irresistible, often lilting flow to the end.
Well-known organist-composer David Briggs contributes 'O Lord, Support Us',
a marvel of gentle, yet intense entreaty (another good Evensong number). In
addition to the title piece, the works by Quinn, Piccolo, and Briggs are
recorded here for the first time.
Any church composer would be pleased and proud to have first recordings from
this superb choir. I'm in love with their exquisitely pure-sounding soprano
section, in particular. Excellent sound engineering as well as a serviceable
booklet complete a well-nigh impeccable package.