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Feel the Spirit

Songs and Spirituals

The Cambridge Singers | Melanie Marshall (mezzo-soprano) | BBC Concert Orchestra
John Rutter (conductor)

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Strong, stirring spirituals and tuneful, jazz-flavoured settings of Shakespeare’s timeless lyrics are the mouth-watering ingredients of the Cambridge Singers’ album Feel the Spirit. John Rutter has written vivid arrangements of seven well-loved American spirituals for choir, with soloist Melanie Marshall and the BBC Concert Orchestra joining together with the Cambridge Singers for this world première recording.

Another notable ‘first’ is jazz legend George Shearing’s captivating cycle of Shakespeare settings, Songs and Sonnets. Those who associate George Shearing with instrumental jazz (and of course with his immortal Lullaby of Birdland) will be astonished and delighted at the youthful charm and skillful word setting of this cycle. The final touch of sparkle is added by Proms favourite Wayne Marshall’s piano with Malcolm Creese on bass. To complete the album, John Rutter’s own Birthday Madrigals also receive their première recording.

An audio learning guide for When the saints go marching in is available from ChoirGuides

Track list

  1. Feel the Spirit: Joshua fit the battle of Jericho (Rutter)
  2. Feel the Spirit: Steal away (Rutter)
  3. Feel the Spirit: I got a robe (Rutter)
  4. Feel the Spirit: Sometimes I feel like a motherless child (Rutter)
  5. Feel the Spirit: Ev'ry time I feel the Spirit (Rutter)
  6. Feel the Spirit: Deep River (Rutter)
  7. Feel the Spirit: When the saints go marching in (Rutter)
  8. Songs and Sonnets: Live with me and be my love (George Shearing)
  9. Songs and Sonnets: When daffodils begin to peer (Shearing)
  10. Songs and Sonnets: It was a lover and his lass (Shearing)
  11. Songs and Sonnets: Spring (Shearing)
  12. Songs and Sonnets: Who is Silvia (Shearing)
  13. Songs and Sonnets: Fie on sinful fantasy (Shearing)
  14. Songs and Sonnets: Hey, ho, the wind and the rain (Shearing)
  15. The Heavenly Aeroplane (Rutter)
  16. Lord of the Dance (arr. John Rutter)
  17. Birthday Madrigals: It was a lover and his lass (Rutter)
  18. Birthday Madrigals: Draw on, sweet night (Rutter)
  19. Birthday Madrigals: Come live with me (Rutter)
  20. Birthday Madrigals: My true love hath my heart (Rutter)
  21. Birthday Madrigals: When daisies pied (Rutter)
  22. Skylark (Rutter)

“Altogether a real ‘feel good’ disc…” BBC Music Magazine

“A delightful disc. Strongly recommended…” Gramophone

“This choral feast (subtitled ‘Songs and Spirituals’) comes from John Rutter’s own Collegium label. Its Anglo­-American thread pays homage to three of his favourite musical traditions – the spiritual‚ the madrigal and American song. The most substantial work here is the new half­-hour­ long cycle of spirituals Feel the Spirit‚ which received its première in Carnegie Hall in June this year. These luscious arrangements bear repeated listening: orchestrally colourful and playfully witty … Melanie Marshall’s voice is engagingly honeyed‚ especially in the Vaughan Williams­ flavoured Sometimes I feel like a motherless child. The Cambridge Singers and BBC Concert Orchestra are on top form throughout.

Rutter’s Birthday Madrigals were completed in 1995 to celebrate George Shearing’s 75th birthday. Drawing on texts from the Elizabethan era‚ they feature the superb bass ­playing of Malcolm Creese and some sympathetic pianistic embellishments from Wayne Marshall‚ and are juxtaposed by Shearing’s own beautiful Songs and Sonnets. (1999)… The ‘fillers’ offer a triple bonus and include a full French impressionist treatment of Hoagy Carmichael’s exquisite Skylark. A delightful disc. Strongly recommended.” Gramophone

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