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Paul Spicer


Paul Spicer

Paul Spicer began his musical training as a chorister at New College, Oxford. He studied with Herbert Howells and Richard Popplewell (organ) at the Royal College of Music in London, winning the Walford Davies Organ Prize in his final year (the top award). He taught music for ten years from 1974 at Uppingham School and Ellesmere College before becoming a Producer for BBC Radio 3 in 1984. In 1990 he became Artistic Director of the Lichfield International Arts Festival, and also Director of the Abbotsholme Arts Society, he relinquished these posts in July 2001 in order to pursue a completely freelance musical career.

Paul Spicer is best-known for his work as a choral conductor. He has conducted Bach Choirs in Chester and Leicester (and the Chester Festival Chorus), and in September 1992 took over the conductorship of the Birmingham Bach Choir, one of the leading amateur choirs of the Midlands. He is also the founder and director of the Finzi Singers. This well known professional London-based chamber choir of 18 singers has achieved an international reputation principally through their many recordings on the Chandos label, and also through their concerts at Festivals, in London and elsewhere, and through the many broadcasts they do for the BBC.



Displaying 1-10 of 10 items.

Finzi Singers : Britten: Choral Edition Vol 1 : 00  1 CD : Paul Spicer : Benjamin Britten : 9511

Finzi Singers : Britten: Choral Edition Vol 1

Review: This is the first volume of the Britten Choral Edition series. The recital opens with four masterful hymns that exhibit Britten's creativity, including the Hymn of St Columba (1962) and the Hymn to the Virgin (1930), which serve as testaments to the skill he possessed at age 16. The recording continues on to the frequently-recorded Rejoice in the Lamb (1943), the delightful Choral Dances from "Gloriana" and concludes with A.M.D.G. The Finzi Singers' Britten Choral Edition cannot escape comparrison to (if not competition with) the three-disc Britten set previously released by The Sixteen. In regard to the two series, as weighed in a review by Gramophone (August, 1998), "there is no clear-cut decision. Balance differs somewhat in the two recordings, The Sixteen having a fuller, more sonorous presence, the Finzis giving more prominence to the organ in accompanied items. Andrew Lumsden's contribution may indeed help to tip the balance further in the Finzis' favour for he is constantly bringing out something in colour or rhythm that adds flavour and distinction."

Songlist: Hymn to St Peter, Op. 56a, A Hymn of St. Columba, A Hymn to the Virgin, Hymn to St Cecilia, Op. 27, Rejoice in the Lamb, Op. 30, Choral Dances from Gloriana, A.M.D.G.

6876c 00 1 CD $15.98 English Choral CDs

Finzi Singers : Britten: Choral Edition Vol 2 : 00  1 CD : Paul Spicer : Benjamin Britten : 9598

Finzi Singers : Britten: Choral Edition Vol 2

Review: The second installment of the Britten Choral Edition opens with the spirited and little-known Jubilate in E flat (1934), and gives great pleasure throughout. The opening of the Te Deum, for instance, is energetic in its precision. The opening of the Sanctus in the Missa brevis similarly bears an extra splendour of tone and movement. Sweet was the Song the Virgin sang (1931 and second term at the RCM) has an uncanny sureness of touch, and "Thou art the King of glory" erupts with color vitality in rhythm. The Missa brevis too gains with each listen, although Gramophone (Augsut, 1998) reminds of us to question of the use of women's voices instead of boys'. "Something is lost, even here, and going back to Britten's own recording of the Ceremony of Carols with the Copenhagen Boys' Choir (odd as they often sound to our ears) one again misses something distinctive on return to the ladies - whether of the Finzi Singers or The Sixteen."

Songlist: Jubilate Deo, Te Deum, Antiphon, Op. 56b, Missa Brevis, Op. 63, A Wedding anthem, Op. 46, Sweet Was the Song the Virgin Sung, A ceremony of carols, Op. 28, Festival Te Deum, Op. 32, Jubilate Deo

6891c 00 1 CD $15.98 English Choral CDs

Finzi Singers : Britten: Choral Edition Vol 3 : 00  1 CD : Paul Spicer : Benjamin Britten : chn 9701

Finzi Singers : Britten: Choral Edition Vol 3

Review: Britain's Finzi Singers, under the direction of Paul Spicer, specialize in twentieth-century British choral music. This CD, the third in a series featuring an all-Britten program, includes one of his earliest works, written while he was at the Royal College of Music and experimenting with serial procedures: "A Boy Was Born." One of his last compositions, "Sacred and Profane," written the year before his death in 1976, is a cyclic setting of verse from the 12th and 14th centuries. Also included are "Five Flower Songs" (1942) and "Advanced Democracy" (1938, reflecting the political unrest in Europe). As is typical of contemporary classical, the sound can be tonally ambigious, stylistically discordant and disturbing, though expertly realized.

Songlist: To Daffodils, The Succession Of The Four Sweet Months, Marsh Flowers, The Evening Primrose, Ballad Of Green Broom, St. Godric's Hymn, I Mon Waxe Wod, Lenten Is Come, The Long Night, Yif Ic Of Luve Can, Carol, Ye That Passen By, A Death, Theme: A Boy Was Born, Variation I: Lullaby, Jesu, Variation II: Herod-, Variation III: Jesu, As Thou Art Our Saviour, Variation IV: The Three Kings, Variation V: In The Bleak Mid-Winter-, Variation VI: (Finale): Noel

6471c 00 1 CD $15.98 English Choral CDs

Finzi Singers : Elgar - Part Songs : 00  1 CD : Paul Spicer : Edward Elgar : 9269

Finzi Singers : Elgar - Part Songs

Review: The Finzi Singers seem to know just what is required of them, bringing their imaginative style to some of the best partsongs. The programme is arranged chronologically until the last five pieces, which form a kind of encore-group or coda to the recital. From Op. 18 to Op. 73 is quite a journey. In years, it goes from 1890 (the date of My love dwelt in a Northern land, from Op. 18) to 1914: most of Elgar's creative life lies between. The imaginative freedom and technical assurance of the 1914 settings are attributes hard won in the period that divides these compositions from the easier charm and geniality of the early sets. Yet, returning to those, one finds a very characteristic strength, whether of melody, harmony or phrasing.

Songlist: O Happy Eyes, Love, My Love Dwelt in a Northern Land, Yea, Cast me from Heights of the Mountains, Whether I Find Thee, Aver Many a Dusty Mile, It's Oh! to be a Wild Wind, Feasting I Watch, There is Sweet Music, Deep in My Soul, O Wild West Wind!, Owls (An Epitaph), The Shower, The Fountain, Death on the Hills Op. 72, Love's Tempest, Serenade, How Calmly the Evening, Weary Wind of the West, Wvening Scene, The Prince of Sleep, Go, Song of Mine Op. 57

6893c 00 1 CD $15.98 English Choral CDs

Finzi Singers : Holst / Vaughan Williams Choral : 00  1 CD : Paul Spicer : Ralph Vaughan WilliamsHolst : 9425

Finzi Singers : Holst / Vaughan Williams Choral

Review: As directed by Paul Spicer, this English mixed ensemble has devoted themselves to the promulgation of British choral works. The relatively obscure Gustav Holst composed during the turn of the century, whereas Vaughan Williams began his career slightly later, by collecting English folk songs, ultimately accumulating over eight hundred! Later, Williams wrote various pieces for royal occasions and the like, such as "The Souls Of The Righteous" to dedicate the Battle Of Britain chapel. Sometimes dark and mournful ("Valiant For Truth"), hearty and powerful ("Sing Me The Men"), eerie and captivating ("Full Fathom Five") or gentle and pure ("O Lady, Leave That Silken Thread"), this collection is always uncompromised in excellence.

Songlist: The Dark-Eyed Sailor, The Springtime Of The Year, Just As The Tide Was Flowing, The Lover's Ghost , Wassail Song, Ave Maria, Op. 9b, Valiant For Truth, O Vos Omnes, The Evening-Watch, Op.43, No 1, O Taste And See, The Souls Of Righteous, This Have I Done For My True Love, Op. 34, No. 2, Nunc Dimittis , Sing Me The Men, Op. 43, No. 2, Full Fathom Five, The Cloud-Capp'd Towers, Over Hill, Over Dale, O Lady, Leave That Silken Thread, Soft And Gently, The Autumn Is Old, Winter And The Birds, The Turtle Dove

6472c 00 1 CD $15.98 English Choral CDs

Finzi Singers : Howells / Stevens : 00  1 CD : Paul Spicer : Herbert HowellsStevens : 9021

Finzi Singers : Howells / Stevens

Review: In a series focusing on sacred 20th century choral works of British composers, the 20-strong mixed choral group The Finzi Singers, founded and directed by Paul Spicer, have presented some brilliant works by relatively unknown composers. Herbert Howells, described as "the central composer for the 20th century Anglican liturgy," is hardly unknown, but here are early works for the church that were believed lost up until very recently. Included are 15 of Howells' songs, including the 8 soaring movements of "Mass in the Dorian Mode, "Salve Regina," "O salutaris Hostia," "Sweetest of Sweets," "Come My Soul," "Antiphon," Nunc dimittis" and Regina caili," Following are works by Bernard Stevens, like Howells, closely associated with the Royal College of Music. The 5 movements of his 1939 "Mass for Double Choir," "Kyrie eleison," "Gloria," "Sanctus," "Benedictus" and "Agnus Dei" are striking works by a brilliant composer whose works are under-performed and under-recognized today. The Finzi Singers are one of the best church choirs we've heard, and they have recorded a very special CD. The extensive liner notes have all lyrics and information about the composers.

Songlist: Mass in the Doriam Mode:, I Kyrie, II Gloria in Excelsis, III Credo, IV Sanctus, V Benedictus, VI Osanna, VII Agnus Dei I, VIII Agnus Dei II, Salve Regina, O salutaris Hostia, Sweeest of sweets, Come, my soul, Antiphon, Nunc dimittis, Regina caeli, Mass for Double Choir:, I Kyrie eleison, II Gloria, III Sanctus, IV Benedictus, V Agnus Dei

6875c 00 1 CD $15.98

Finzi Singers : Howells / Williams - English Romantic Choral Music : 00  1 CD : Paul Spicer : Ralph Vaughan WilliamsHowells, Herbert  : 9019

Finzi Singers : Howells / Williams - English Romantic Choral Music

Review: Here is another excellent record by the Finzi Singers in a series which is proving as valuable as anything in the current lists. They have standards in their choice of music as in their manner of performance, and everything they have undertaken in their recordings has been in a tradition of good workmanship and good taste. This present programme, with its alternation of works by Howells and Vaughan Williams, illustrates the individuality of both composers as well as the shared possession of a culture deeply loved and richly imbued. All are finely caught in these performances, not least the aeroplanes in Harry Bickett's imaginative registration and skilful playing. Choral tone, the work of soloists drawn from the choir, recorded sound, written presentation, all are admirable features of a highly recommendable disc.

Songlist: Prayer to the Father of Heaven, A Sequence for St Michael, A Vision of Aeroplanes, The House of the Mind, Lord, Thou hast been our Refuge, Requiem:, I Salvator mundi, II Psalm 23, III Requiem aeternam (1), IV Psalm 121, V Requiem aeternam (2), VI I heard a voice from heaven

6895c 00 1 CD $15.98 English Choral CDs

Finzi Singers : Howells Choral Music : 00  1 CD : Paul Spicer : Herbert Howells : 9458

Finzi Singers : Howells Choral Music

Review: This is another exemplary addition to the Finzi Singers' ever-expanding discography. The earliest offerings here include "Even Such Is Time," an unpublished effort from 1913, and spans all the way to 1970, with "and Thee I Will Love," a heartfelt setting from 1970 with words by Robert Bridges, "commemorating the massacre of the monks of the Abbey of Medehamstede - now Peterborough Cathedral - in AD 870". As we have now come to expect from this partnership on record, these are splendidly fervent, finely disciplined performances (one readily forgives the occasional raw sonority from the sopranos). Excellent Chandos engineering, too. A hearty recommendation.

Songlist: Behold, O God our Defender, Here is the Little Door, Sing Lullaby, A Spotless Rose, Te Deum, The Scribe, Thee will I Love, Blessed are the Dead, Even Such is Time, Inheritance, Heac Dies, God is Gone Up

6894c 00 1 CD $15.98 English Choral CDs

Finzi Singers : Leighton Choral Music : 00  1 CD : Paul Spicer : Kenneth Leighton : 9485

Finzi Singers : Leighton Choral Music

Review: The Finzi Singers are a 20-strong, mixed British choral group, founded by Paul Spicer in 1987 for a Festival of British Music given under the auspices of the Finzi Trust. They are now regarded as the major exponents of British 20th-century choral music, in which they specialize. For the Chandos label, the Finzis are recording a wide variety of British music, much of which has never been heard before. This is the music of Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988) all eclectic, powerful Christian choral music, 8 songs in five groups: "God's Grandeur," "What Love Is This Of Thine?," "Give Me the Wings of Faith," "Crucifixus pro nobis, Op. 38," which has four parts, "Christ in the Cradle," "Christ in the Garden," "Christ in His Passion," and "Hymn," and "Lully, Lulla, Thou Little Tiny Child" first composed when Leighton was only 18. Difficult, dissonant, soaring passages are easily handled by the Singers, who treat us to some amazing music by an fine, relatively unknown composer. Some organ accompaniment. Extensive, detailed liner notes.

Songlist: God's Grandeur, What Love if This of Thine?, Give Me the Wings of Faith, Crucifixus pro obis, Op. 38, Lully, Lulla, Thou Little Tiny Child, Op. 25b, Mass, Op. 44, Laudate pueri, Op. 68

6892c 00 1 CD $15.98 English Choral CDs

Finzi Singers : Moeran / Warlock : 00  1 CD : Paul Spicer : Moeran, E.J. Warlock, Peter  : 9182

Finzi Singers : Moeran / Warlock

Review: Given performances as openly sincere and sensitive as these, few could remain unmoved. Bethlehem Down with its haunting, desolate air is the best-known work here but it only hints at the emotional intensity of such wonderful carols as The full heart with its exotic harmonies and complex part-writing and the ravishingly beautiful Corpus Christi. The relationship between Warlock and Moeran can be overworked: musically the connections seem largely superficial. Not for Moeran the pained utterances of a twisted soul, but in these two matchless madrigal suites there is an indefinable Englishness-the result of a deep awareness of tradition and love of the countryside. Again the innate musicality of the Finzi Singers pays handsome dividends; these warm-toned, richly expressive voices (not least Andrea Gray and Andrew Carwood, magnificent soloists in Warlock's Corpus Christi) seem to capture the very essence of this uniquely lovely music.

Songlist: Songs of Springtime:, Under the Greenwood Tree, The River-God's Song, Sping, the Sweet Spring, Love is a Sickness, Sigh no more, Ladies, Good Wine, To Daffodils, Phyllida and Corydon:, Madrigal - Phyllida and Corydon, Madrigal - Beauty sat bathing by a spring, Pastoral - On a hill there grows a flower, Air - Phyllis inamorata, Ballet - Said I that Amaryllis, Canzonet - The treasure of my heart, Air - While she lies sleeping, Pastoral - Corydon, arise, Madrigal - To meadows, A Cornish Carol, I saw a fair maiden, Benadicamus Domino, The Full Heart, The Rich Cavalcade, Corpus Christi, All the Flowers of the Spring, As Dew in Aprylle, Bethlehem Down, A Cornish Christmal Carol

6873c 00 1 CD $15.98

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