Decca releases Box Set of George Guest recordings

Posted on: 2 May 2017

George Guest Decca Box Set

We are delighted that Decca have released a box set of George Guest’s seminal Argo recordings of the Choir. Dr Guest contributed enormously to the English Choral tradition with these recordings, and Decca have selected 42 which have been mastered from the original tapes and include copies of their original vinyl jackets.

George Guest’s tenure spanned forty years (1951-1991) and it cemented the clear enunciation and emotionally direct approach that became known as the “St John’s Sound.” He was able to bring music of the French choral tradition to English choirs, as well as revive the neglected 16th century masses and the late Haydn masses, giving St John’s a unique repertoire that set it apart from other collegiate choirs.

Some of the discs, such as that of the Duruflé Requiem and the Langlais Messe solennelle, received praise from the composers themselves. Duruflé said “[I] greatly appreciate the qualities of execution, of interpretation and of the sound itself…” whilst Langlais commented: “I admire everything – the style, the tempi, the voices, the organist, and the conductor. Let me tell you of my deepest gratitude and admiration.”

Andrew Nethsingha, who was an Organ Student at St John's under Guest from 1987-90, is tremendously pleased with the project: "George's ability to engender exquisite phrasing, musicianship and feeling amongst his boy choristers was extraodinary. He showed us the importance of choral singers communicating emotionally and expressing the inner meaning of the words. The spontaneity which could take hold in a performance was profoundly moving.

"It is a tribute to George that all three of his successors at St John's – Christopher Robinson, David Hill and myself – have made it a top priority to seek to continue many aspects of his sound and style. George's breath of repertoire was pioneering in its day and I am thrilled that this seminal collection of recordings is now available as a boxed set."

The box set was released on 2nd June, and is available from Amazon and Presto Classical.

On 18th June 2017, Andrew McGregor and Jeremy Summerly gave a compelling review of the box set on BBC Radio 3's 'Record Review,' which is available to listen to on the BBC website. The review begins at approximately 1:35:50.

The 42 discs included are (*First international Decca CD release):

CD Hear My Prayer

CD Tallis & Weelkes

CD Stainer: The Crucifixion

CD Twentieth Century Church Music

CD English Cathedral Music 1770-1860 *

CD Hymns For All Seasons

CD Purcell: Music For The Chapel Royal

CD Britten: A Ceremony Of Carols; Rejoice In The Lamb; Missa Brevis

CD Haydn: Mass No.12 in B Flat Major - "Theresienmesse"

CD 10 Monteverdi: Masses in Four Parts; Laudate Pueri; Ut Queant Laxis

CD 11 Ascensiontide Service

CD 12 Haydn: Mass in B Flat - "Harmoniemesse"

CD 13 Victoria: Requiem Mass; O Magnum Mysterium; Ave Maria

CD 14 Haydn: Heiligmesse

CD 15 A Meditation On Christ's Nativity

CD 16 Palestrina: Veni Sponsa Christi

CD 17 Italian & English Church Music
     [*incl the 1st intl Decca CD release of works by Casciolini, Gabrieli, Gesualdo, Banchieri track [2], [4]-[9] ]

CD 18 Haydn: Creation Mass

CD 19 Victoria: O Quam Gloriosum Est Regnum

CD 20 Haydn: Missa in tempore belli - "Paukenmesse"; M. Haydn: Ave Regina

CD 21 O Sacrum Convivium: Modern French Church Music
     [*including the first international Decca CD release of Langlais Messe solennelle]

CD 22 Palestrina: Missa Assumpta Est Maria; Missa Brevis
     [*including the first international Decca CD release of Palestrina’s Missa brevis à 4]

CD 23 Purcell: Te Deum & Jubilate; Complete Funeral Sentences

CD 24 Liszt: Missa Choralis; Bruckner: Five Motets

CD 25 Beethoven: Mass in C, Op.86

CD 26 Christmas At St. John's

CD 27 Duruflé: Requiem

CD 28 Schubert: Mass in E Flat, D.950

CD 29 Purcell: Verse Anthems

CD 30 Fauré: Messe de Requiem; Cantique de Jean Racine

CD 31 The King Shall Rejoice & Other Chapel Royal Anthems *

CD 32 Poulenc: Mass in G; Exultate Deo; Salve Regina: Peeters: Missa Festiva
     [*including the first international Decca CD release of Flor Peeters’ Missa Festiva]

CD 33 Schubert: Mass in A Flat, D.678

CD 34 Bononcini: Stabat Mater; Lotti: Crucifixus; Caldara: Crucifixus

CD 35 Haydn: Mariazeller Mass; Little Organ Mass

CD 36 Psalms Of Consolation And Hope

CD 37 A.Scarlatti: St. Cecilia Mass

CD 38 Pergolesi: Stabat Mater

CD 39 Mozart: Mass in C, K.258; Vesperae Solennes, K.339

CD 40 Mozart: Vesperae, K.321; Litaniae, K.243

CD 41 Vivaldi: Gloria, RV588; Gloria, RV589

CD 42 Tallis: Mass "Salve Intemerata Virgo"; Sheppard: Mass "The Western Wind"

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Recorded on
15 March 2022
  • Responses and Preces: Radcliffe
  • Psalm 18 vv. 1-6 (tone i)
  • Readings: Ezekiel 36.22-27, Acts 19.1-10
  • Howells (Collegium Regale)
  • Elgar: Give unto the Lord
  • Voluntary: Bach  Prelude in C minor
Nethsingha is his own man and absolutely his own musician, which is why his choir continues to evolve and lead

Andrew Mellor, Gramophone