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Michael White
Gramophone, January 2015

GRAMOPHONE SPECIALIST’S GUIDE TO… Music for Choral Evensong # 7

Another of those star-filled CDs from St John’s recorded around 2002 with Davies, Clayton and Co. blending seamlessly into the ensemble—this time for works by Kenneth Leighton who isn’t much remembered now except for a well-loved setting of the Coventry Carol. But the two Services on this disc are magical—with a yearning lilt that takes them beyond their upfront indebtedness to Walton, and that the choir handles deftly. © 2015 Gramophone

Brian Wilson
MusicWeb International, March 2010

The three items which make this suitable for Passiontide and Easter will be obvious – two of them are billed on the CD cover – but the recording is valuable for the other items, too, not least the two settings of the Evensong canticles, which open and close the programme. John Quinn “strongly recommend[ed] this CD to all who love the music of the English church” – see review – and, as so often, I find myself in complete agreement with him. The mp3 sound is good.

Penguin Guide, January 2009

Leighton was steeped in the Anglican tradition in his youth as a cathedral chorister, and he contributed to its repertory throughout his life. There are two settings here of the Evening Canticles, framing the sequence, one for Magdalen College, Oxford (1959), and the Second Service (1971) composed in memory of the organist Brian Runnett, who died tragically in his mid-30s. They are among the most powerful since those of Herbert Howells, vividly and thoughtfully illustrating each verse, the Second Service ending with a hushed Gloria. The Easter Sequence, with trumpet obbligato, here played superbly by Crispian Steele-Perkins, is wonderfully written for trebles, and the cantata, Crucifixus pro nobis, using the 17th-century texts by Patrick Carey and Phineas Fletcher, is a movingly spare and compressed setting of the Passion story. With James Oxley the sensitive tenor soloist, it comes over as a work of real substance and deserves the widest dissemination. Christopher Whitton, the responsive organist, has his solo item in Rockingham, based on the hymn, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. Robinson obtains very good singing from St John’s College Choir and the acoustic of St John’s College Chapel is splendidly captured in this fine Naxos recording.

Gramophone, December 2004

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American Record Guide, August 2004

This is part of the outstanding series "English Choral Music" from Naxos.... As we have come to expect, this latest issue consists of first-rate performances, nearly flawless in technique and eloquent in interpretation."

Anthony Burton
BBC Music Magazine, April 2004

"James Oxley is a plangent soloist in this piece and Christopher Robinson's choir (2002 vintage) is on excellent form throughout, with especially clear diction. An atmospheric recording helps make this an outstanding contribution to Naxos's valuable series from St John's."

Hubert Culot
MusicWeb International

"An outstanding release on all fronts; and the one to have, even if you already own any of the other Leighton releases."

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