A Year in Saint Louis
The Choir of Saint Peter’s Church, Saint Louis
directed by William Aitken
Brian Reeves Conductor (tracks 2, 5, 12, 16, 17)
William Aitken Grand Organ (tracks 2, 5, 12, 16, 17) ,
Martha Schaffer Chamber Organ (tracks 5, 12)
‘These singers easily master the wide range of choral styles represented here, from clear and limpid early polyphony through cool Anglican elegance to a spiritual that rocks and rolls. Strong sacred sentiment abounds. There’s a lovely luster to their Sound, and they manage needlepoint intonation in the a cappella pieces. Organ support is outstanding all around: just wait till you hear Mr Aitken cut loose on their magnificent grand organ in the two rousing numbers by Widor. Martha Schaffer offers skilled, though more delicate support on their chamber organ; Brian Reeves conducts most effectively when Aitken plays.
Regent’s engineers manage the church’s acoustic very nicely. If you like to explore really good church music programs across the country, this one’s guaranteed to please.’
American Record Guide March 2015
‘This may be the choir’s first commercial recording, but it’s been well worth the wait. Noted for its performance of Anglican repertoire, this extremely well-trained group presents an unusual and interesting repertoire featuring 20th-century American composers Ned Rorem, Leo Sowerby, Moses Hogan, Louie L. White and Joseph Goodman; there are also commissions from Sasha Johnson Manning and director of music William Aitken. Combined with Stanford, Leighton, Weelkes, Baynon, Victoria and Widor, it is enough to whet any appetite.
The lesser-known items include Sasha Johnson Manning’s A wonder of angels set descriptively to her own text, Louie White’s effective a cappella Saint Teresa's bookmark, and Joseph Goodman’s haunting When rooks fly homeward. Many of the pieces are unaccompanied and the singers never falter: attention to detail is outstanding and the ending of the phrases is perfect - St Peter’s is fortunate to have in William Aitken an exceptional choir director and composer. Mention must also be made of the church’s two Mander organs. Although only used here to accompany the repertoire, the grand organ spoke with a mighty and melodius voice in the Widor; it has a character all its own. I was left with only one word - wow!’
Choir and Organ January 2015
‘The balance, attack and dynamics of the choir are of a consistently high standard; William Aitken directs with a sure hand...I have no hesitation in recommending this
Organists’ Review December 2014
CD: very good value.’
Continuing Regent’s ‘A Year’ series we move to the US, and an unusual collection of music from the choir of Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church, Saint Louis, directed by William Aitken, in their first commercial recording.
Saint Peter’s Church in Saint Louis, Missouri, is renowned in the US mid-West for being a centre for music from the Anglican choral tradition, performed at the highest standards. The adult choir sings English cathedral-style services weekly and the church’s annual organ concert series regularly features distinguished British musicians.
This recording charts a journey through the church’s year from Advent to Pentecost. In addition to some perennial favourites, also included are first recordings of new works written for the Saint Peter’s choir by British composer, Sasha Johnson Manning, together with a selection of recent and contemporary American choral works by Ned Rorem, Leo Sowerby, Louie White, Joseph Goodman, Arthur Baynon, and director William Aitken himself – all of which will be new to British audiences.
The church’s fine main organ, built by British organ builder Mander, is featured extensively, and two of the tracks also feature the new Mander chamber organ.
All glorious God — Ned Rorem (1:51)
A wonder of angels — Sasha Johnson Manning (3:47)
Eternal light — Leo Sowerby (1:46)
Wade in the water — Spiritual, arr Moses Hogan (3:50)
Confession of Saint Peter
Tu es Petrus — Charles Marie Widor (3:00)
Here, O my Lord — William Aitken (2:45)
Beati quorum via — Charles Villiers Stanford (3:44)
Saint Teresa’s bookmark — Louie White (2:11)
Hosanna to the son of David — Thomas Weelkes (2:03)
Drop, drop slow tears — Kenneth Leighton (2:15)
Vere languores nostros — Tomás Luis de Victoria (3:25)
Surrexit a mortuis — Charles MarieWidor (5:46)
This joyful Eastertide — 17th c Dutch, arr William Aitken (2:32)
Laudate Dominum — Joseph Goodman (3:59)
When rooks fly homeward — Arthur Baynon (1:36)
Evening Canticles in D minor — Sasha Johnson Manning
Nunc dimittis (3:43)
Te lucis ante terminum — William Aitken (4:55)