the music of his coronation reissued

A sound – sometimes a little distant – with vintage charm, dazzling brass, majestic percussion, great organs and, above all, human voices, children and adults, male and female. By reissuing the musical anthology that accompanied, on June 2, 1953, the coronation ceremony of Elizabeth II – one year after her accession to the throne – Warner Classics is participating in the celebrations of the 70 years of reign of the British sovereign.

→ CRITICAL. “Elizabeth, Regard(s) singuliers(s)”, a mischievous vision of the queen

Beneath the vaults of Westminster Abbey, triumphal fanfares and solemn hymns enshrine the traditional (and still effective) God Save the Queen and religious choral pages born from the pen of composers who have marked the history of island music. From Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625) and John Dowland (1563-1626) to William Walton (1902-1983). But also Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) including several pieces, in particular the very inspired Communion motet O Taste and See, demonstrates high talent.

Handel, the anthem of kings and queens

Of course, the most English of Saxon musicians, Handel, is royally present in this ultra-codified unfolding, through a famous page: the solemn fervor, the harmonic solidity and the fullness of Ass the Priest give chills! Written on the occasion of the coronation of King George II in 1727, this brilliant page has since been on the “programme” of every British coronation ceremony, when the new sovereign is anointed.

Whether or not you are a fan of monarchical pomp, whether you listen with amused or moved ears to this bouquet of 20 contrasting soundtracks, it is clear that, seventy years later, the soundtrack of the he event illustrates the uniqueness of English music and the diversity of atmospheres that accompanied the coronation of Elizabeth II.

As such, the Gloria by Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924) stands out as a seductive crossing from the intimate to the majestic, from contemplation to formality and from the worried palpitations specific to human fragility to confidence in divine protection. We savor the long garlands of silky strings as well as the spring freshness of children’s voices. Their flights remain irresistible.


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