Choir of St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh

Kenneth Leighton Sacred Choral Works


FITTING into a number of threads of the Delphian label catalogue — recordings by the St Mary’s Choir under the Cathedral’s Master of Music Duncan Ferguson, collections of “scared choral music” by a number of different composers, and new editions of compositions by the former Reid Professor of Music at Edinburgh University, Kenneth Leighton — this new disc also arrives at the right time of year as includes some very fine Christmas music.

The best known of these is Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child, a seasonal staple that Leighton wrote in his teens, using a combination of soprano soloist, choir and organ to which he would return. Of a rose is all my song was composed 22 years later in 1970, and has the subtitle “a Christmas carol”, while the more boisterous Wassail all over town is his setting of one of the Gloucestershire Yuletide songs collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams and dates from between the two.

The other sacred works on the disc would also sit well in worship at this time of year, the short Passion, Crucifixus Pro Nobis, featuring tenor Samuel Jenkins, and the similarly brief Mass, Missa Sancti Petri, in which Jenkins is joined by bass Alan Rowland and treble Finn Hart-Brown as soloists. The latter also sings on the anthem Awake my Glory, which was composed specifically for St Mary’s, as was the motet What Love is this of thine?, from 1985 and Leighton’s last sacred work for unaccompanied choir.

With fine young female soloists in Nora Trew-Rae and Olivia Massimo, the choir is on top form across this full spectrum of material, beautifully recorded in the cathedral by Delphian’s Paul Baxter.