Solid Choral Compositions from Richard Lambert

This release features twelve works given their world recording premiers. Choirs throughout the English-speaking world are familiar with Richard Lambert’s work. This album exposes his music to a wider audience. 

The collection presents a good overview of the composer’s style. Lambert has an engaging, accessible style. His music can be challenging, but it’s always playable and listenable. And those are the two elements of success in the world of choral music. 

The album has what it calls a “Christmas Sequence.” The Christmas carols in this section are all original Lambert compositions. Although they weren’t originally conceived of as a whole. The earliest carol dates from 1995, the latest from 2021. The sequence is simply a collection of Lambert’s carols. 

Still, it’s a nice sequence. And the carols are real standouts. In many cases, Lambert takes a familiar text and creates a new melody for it. “Away in a Manger” and “The Holly and the Ivy” take on new meanings in these resettings. 

The most ambitious work on the album is “a plague o’ your houses.” I’ve not heard anything quite like it. Lambert composed the work during the Covid lockdown. A narrator, personifying different plagues, sets the stage. The choir articulates the feelings and impressions of those living in a plague zone. Lambeth augments the sound with a string quartet and percussion. 

The work has a disorienting quality to it. The mood it sets is somber, yet restless. Oppressive, and yet unsettled. I think “…a plague” is worth the price of admission (or download). Consider the other selections bonus material. 

Karolina Csáthy directs the Accordare Choir. They sing with feeling and precision — two qualities for the success of “…a plague.”    

Richard Lambert: Choral Music, Sacred and Secular
Accordare Choir, Karolina Csáthy, director
Toccata Classics TOCC 0713

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