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Awake Ye Mortals All

The Gladly Solemn Sound

West Gallery Christmas Music

Cover Design

No cat no.

1. Awake Ye Mortals All - Puddletown ms
2. South Petherton - Thomas Shoel "High let us swell our tunefu tes"
3a. Trettondags Marsch (Twelth Night tune)
3b. Glad Tidings - Dorset ms
4. The Oxen - Thomas Hardy / music: Paul Guppy
5. Nativity - John Ray "While shepherds watched"
6. Nativity - J.Wardle "Hark, the herald angels sing"
7. The Darkling Thrush - Thomas Hardy / music: "Dorset" tune
8. The Counsels of Grace - William Knapp "Th'eternal speaks, all heav'n attends"
9. Arise & Hail the Glorious Star - Cornish Carol Book
10a.Pastorale - Philip Hayes
10b.Messiah - Cornish ms "Welcome, happy morn"
11. Sons of Mirth (drinking song) - John Alcock, the younger
12. "We Happy Herdsmen" - Shann ms (British Library)
13. The Carol of the Skiddaw Yowes - Ernest Casson / music: Chris Gardner "The shepherds, on the fell-side"
14. "As Harmless Shepherds" - Puddletown ms
15. The Fieldmice's Carol - Kenneth Grahame / music: Paul Guppy "Villagers All, this frosty tide"
16. "Hark, What Celestial Sounds" - Moses Heap ms book, Rossendale
17. Great was the Joy - Edward Oxford (Dorset ms book)
18. Behold I bring you glad tidings - Israel Holdroyd et al
19. Roby Mill New Year Carol - "Come welcome the new Year"

The CD can be obtained by sending a cheque payable to "Gladly Solemn Sound" for 11 (inc.p&p) to Paul Guppy, Paul Guppy Music Repairs, 5 Albion Mews, De Vitre Street, Lancaster, LA1 3GE.

Review by Tony Singleton, February 2006

Gladlly Solemn Sound's first CD has long been a favourite of mine and so as soon as I knew that the choir were recording a second, I asked Paul Guppy to let me know when it was available. Consequently a copy dropped through my door within a couple of days of Paul receiving the first pressings. I immediately put it into my hifi and couldn't leave the room until I had heard it all. I have played their first CD, 'Repeat their Sounding Joy', over and over and this is as good or even surpasses it. After hearing just a few tracks you know that a lot of hard work has gone into the production exemplified by the quality of performance, the excellent sleeve design and insert notes and the variety of music included. It ranges from early unaccompanied fuging tunes through late West Gallery florid arrangements with instrumental symphonies to modern settings of poems by Thomas Hardy, Kenneth Grahame and Ernest Casson, a northern dialect poet.

The title track comes first and sets the tone for the whole CD, a brisk performance, excellent diction and a recording that just tells you that the singers love this musi The choir mostly performs unaccompanied, recruiting instrumentalists to help out in concerts and on recordings. Here, three string players ably assist, supporting the singers on 7 tracks and playing two instrumental pieces. They accompany on track 2, "South Petherton", a setting by Thomas Shoel of the words 'High let us swell' but then follows an instrumental track, rather unexpectedly (for a West Gallery CD) a Scandinavian Twelfth Night march, but a splendidly authentic sound they make. By complete contrast, this leads into the unaccompanied "Glad Tidings" from a Dorset ms book, an early fuging tune sung in declamatory style.

There are two of Paul's own compositions on the CD - a beautifully pensive setting of Hardy's poem, "The Oxen", and his setting of Grahame's "The Fieldmice's Carol" which I first heard and sang at a WGMA weekend at Ironbridge some 6-7 years ago. The piping trebles make wonderful mice and perfectly complement the full-bodied chorus of 'Joy shall be yours in the morning'. I found Chris Gardner's composition - a setting of the dialect poem "The Carol of the Skiddaw Yowes" by Ernest Casson - beautifully moving; the choir sing it with great sensitivity. By contrast "Arise and Hail the Glorious Star" and "Great was the joy" (with delightful symphonies) are taken at a cracking pace and obviously sung with great enthusiasm. I must also mention the wonderful setting by the Lancashire composer, John Ray, of "While Shepherds Watched", where the treble line is just pure joy.

And so I could go on - the pleasure of listening is, I am sure enhanced, by the time which has been clearly spent planning the order of tracks on this CD; it is full of contrasts and variety and Paul uses dynamics within several pieces to great effect. My only regret (and Paul's, too, I think) is that the CD wasn't ready a little earlier in the year but this was through his determination to get each track as good as it could be, which necessitated extra recording sessions. The effort has more than paid off! With nineteen tracks, the CD is excellent value for money; buy it - it's great to listen to at any time of the year and half the profits go to support their favourite charity.

Listen to some extracts from the CD:
Glad Tidings - 385 Kb (25 secs)
Nativity (While Shepherds Watched) - 483 Kb (31 secs)
The Carol of the Skiddaw Yowes - 789 Kb (50 secs)

See details of the CD 'Repeat their Sounding Joy'


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