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Posted August 12, 2011
This collection of music from British Royal weddings celebrates these favorites for joyous ceremony. Any couple planning a wedding would be proud to include a selection performed on this CD. Soloists, organ, orchestras and choirs tug at our heartstrings with traditional pieces known and performed for centuries. The selections included in the Victoria-to-William time span also range from early to modern, from 1653 through the 20th century, from tender to grandiose, easily recognized and memorable.
Organists Ernst Hansen and legendary Marie-Claire Alain showcase the organ works. Most appealing choral works are Fauré's Cantique de Jean Racine, and Handel's Let the Bright Seraphim. Tenor Plácido Domingo represents the epitome of excellence in Puccini's Nessun dorma.
It would be puzzling for the modern bride to select the Fauré Pié Jesu or Howells Psalm 23, works linked with sorrow today. Apparently they evoked tenderness and caring in the time they were used for weddings. The wildly popular yet controversial hymn "Jerusalem" was used in the William/Catherine wedding, as was the Widor Tocatta from the Fifth Symphony, making this compilation inclusive through 2011.
The recordings were made from 1958 to 2001, with the quality of sound quite varied; the earliest recording is the "weakest link" in the collection. What a surprise that Handel's "Let the Bright Seraphim." is done by the Welsh alto Helen Watts---the treasure of hearing her elegant voice would be reason enough to acquire this CD. It would also be helpful to have more discussion of these compositions in the accompanying booklet. While audiences are fond of these familiar pieces, more explanation of the performers, ensembles, orchestras, and organs would be appreciated.
It is a delight to hear these marches, arias, solos, toccatas, and choruses which bring back memories, illustrate musical standards, and celebrate the joy of any wedding ceremony.