Samuel Sebastian Wesley: Sacred Choral Music

In an age when church attendance in England was flourishing, Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810–1876) was one of the foremost composers and organists of his day. Taking advantage of new developments in instrument building, Wesley was able to push the boundaries of English church music in a new direction, encompassing a more ambitious, even operatic style.

In this recording – the first to have been made using an organ similar in design to his own – Wesley’s music is brought to vibrant life by the young professional singers of Holy Sepulchre under conductor Toby Ward.

"Conductor Toby Ward captures a sense of freshness and drama in the big-boned verse anthems that lie at the heart of this recording, underlining the quasi-operatic qualities that so discombobulated his more conservative parishioners. SS Wesley's compositional style continues in the tradition of his father Samuel in his reverence for Bach, Handel and Mozart. But he is also alert to his contemporaries such as Spohr, Mendelssohn and Weber, while synthesising a sound that seems effortlessly English, perfectly suited to the nation's cathedrals and churches where his music has become a mainstay ... The re-evaluation of Victoriana has been a significant development in British cultural life in recent years, and this new release takes a refreshingly clean, clear-eyed view of a composer we tend to take for granted. The choir of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the City of London (dubbed the National Musicians' Church) is bright, well balanced and animated, with fulsome solo contributions from its members ... Wesley took an active interest in organ design, and organist Richard Gowers makes the most of the brilliant articulation of the Holy Sepulchre's pipe organ."

Release Date: 24 May 2024
Catalogue No: DCD34268
Total playing time: 1:14:18

Recorded on 1-3 August 2022 at St James’ Church, Bermondsey
Producer/Engineer: Paul Baxter
24-bit digital editing: James Waterhouse
24-bit digital mastering: Paul Baxter
Academic adviser and editions: Peter Horton

Design: Drew Padrutt
Booklet editor: Henry Howard
Cover: anonymous oil painting of S.S. Wesley, reproduced with kind permission of the Royal College of Music
Photography: foxbrush.co.uk
Delphian Records Ltd – Edinburgh – UK www.delphianrecords.com


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