Carols from Chelsea (SOMM Recordings) - buy here
"Under the meticulous direction of William Vann, their reading of Howells’s A Spotless Rose is, well, spotless, while John Rutter’s Dormi, Jesu is saved from schmaltz and sung with the sweet, gentle grace it deserves." - The Guardian
This recording showcases some of the Choir’s most cherished carol repertoire, alongside solo organ music performed by the Royal Hospital’s Organ Scholar, James Orford, and a very special performance with Chelsea Pensioner George Hatton. George is known for his occasional singing in the Chelsea Pensioners’ Club in the evening, and during December he has been known to join forces with the choir for a song or two. It was one of those moments that gave them the idea to record something with him on this album and the last track, White Christmas, could hardly have ended the disc more joyously!
Many of the Royal Hospital’s carol services begin with Franz Gruber’s spine-tingling carol Stille Nacht, an especially moving carol to hear in the original German, given its celebrated performance in the trenches on Christmas Day, 1914. Once in Royal David’s City is the first of three carols that are usually sung with the full congregation, opening with the famous solo that captures the mood of Christmas like nothing else. In between that and Irving Berlin’s wonderfully un-wintry White Christmas, performed here in a new arrangement by Jim Clements, we hear mostly the work of English composers, from the Renaissance-era genius William Byrd to the contemporary composers Francis Pott and John Rutter. British organist Thomas Trotter’s arrangement of Leroy Anderson’s light-music classic Sleigh Ride leads us into John Gardner’s thrilling setting of the old text Tomorrow shall be my Dancing Day, the side drum part played on one of the Royal Hospital’s beautifully decorated instruments.
In Remembrance (SOMM Recordings) - buy here
"Directed by William Vann, the Choir of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, with its clear, ringing tone, provides beautifully nuanced performances, especially of the a cappella items, Stanford’s numinous introit ‘Justorum animae’, Parry’s six-part ‘There is an old belief’, and Elgar’s elegiac ‘They are at rest’" - Gramophone
In the centenary anniversary year of the end of the First World War and on the eve of the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War, SOMM Recordings pays tribute to those who fought and fell in battle with In Remembrance. A moving compendium of music spanning 130 years, it features the Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, the Choir of Chelsea Pensioners, Staff and Volunteers, sopranos Katy Hill and Leah Jackson, baritone Gareth John and organists James Orford and Hugh Rowlands under the direction of William Vann.
Founded in 1682 by King Charles II, the Royal Hospital is home to the world-famous Chelsea Pensioners – retired veterans of the British army – whose contributions on three tracks adds its own special poignancy to In Remembrance. Moving choral works commemorating courage and offering comfort by Hubert Parry (his anthemic Jerusalem), Gustav Holst (the stirring I Vow to Thee, My Country) and Edward Elgar (his serene partsong They are at rest) are heard alongside equally affecting pieces by their contemporaries and successors, Charles Villiers Stanford, John Ireland, Douglas Guest and Charles Harris.
A Vaughan Williams Christmas (Albion Records) - buy here
"A dark-toned, introspective harmonisation of ‘Coventry Carol’ and a jaunty ‘I Saw Three Ships’ stand out particularly. Clear-toned, welcoming performances." - BBC Music Magazine, Christmas Issue 2018
Vaughan Williams was (with Cecil Sharp) one of the foremost collectors of folk songs from 1903, and collected many traditional carols as well. This collection is of carols as he arranged them, thus presenting his view of Christmas in the first half of the 20th century. He also wrote four completely new carols for the Oxford Book of Carols (tracks 12 to 15). The recording concludes with the first complete recording of Nine Carols for Male Voices, commissioned by the British Council in 1941 for performance by and for British troops serving in Iceland.
Nearly half of the recording is accounted for by world première recordings. The recording was made in February 2018 in St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead. William Vann directs the Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Hugh Rowlands accompanies 13 of the 24 tracks on the church's Willis organ.
Earth & Sky (Albion Records) - buy here
"A group of folk song arrangements elicits breezy, rhythmically engaging performances from the Royal Hospital singers…Vann’s conducting is both energising and unobtrusive, and the sound is pleasingly..." - BBC Music Magazine, November 2018
Albion Records is pleased to present fourteen choral works written by Ralph Vaughan Williams and a further eight arrangements made by him between 1896 and 1954 ? very nearly the length of his working career. 21 of the 22 tracks are world première recordings (we were pipped to 'O Praise the Lord of Heaven' by a June 2018 release!)
This varied collection includes salon music, folk song settings, hymns and anthems, patriotic songs and finally Gaelic songs in English translation. Vaughan Williams never repeated himself, and the variety on display here is quite astonishing.
The recording was made in February 2018 in St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead. William Vann directs the Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, and plays the piano for four tracks. Hugh Rowlands accompanies a further 9 tracks on the church's Willis organ.