17 November 2023
Manuscripts II deserves your full attention
Charlie Green (Droitwich Spa) reviews the ISB album Manuscripts II.
Manuscripts II marks an eagerly anticipated follow-up to the ISB’s immensely successful Manuscripts, which graced our ears more than a quarter of a century ago. Much like its predecessor, this album is dedicated to showcasing unpublished or perhaps under-appreciated compositions from The Salvation Army’s repertoire.
Within this collection, we encounter three works by esteemed composers who have somehow eluded the recognition they truly deserve. William Himes’s ‘Battles’ may not immediately strike one as a quintessential Himes piece, yet with attentive listening it reveals itself as a profoundly potent and thought-provoking composition.
Leslie Condon’s ‘For Men of Faith’ – dormant since the 1980s – now enjoys a well-deserved renaissance, thanks to the ISB’s dedication to reintroducing this fantastic work to the world, some four decades after its creation.
Ray Steadman-Allen wrote ‘Rhapsody for Cornet: Love’s Vision’ for Roland Cobb in the 1960s and how great is it to have a new presentation of that piece almost 60 years later conducted by Roland’s son, Stephen Cobb, and played by his grandson, Philip Cobb. This is some of the finest cornet playing you’ll ever hear.
Manuscripts II boasts two shorter yet equally exciting pieces. Kenneth Downie’s ‘Festival Prelude: Jesus Is Lord!’ and Martin Cordner’s ‘Christ Is All’ are not only musical delights but also serve as stellar choices for opening any concert.
Andrew Wainwright’s ‘Horizon: The Promise of the Lord’ artfully weaves in the beloved Welsh hymn tune ‘Cwm Rhondda’, famously associated with the lyrics of ‘Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah’.
Stephen Gibson’s ‘Wonder’ offers a beautiful contemplation of the chorus ‘Can You Wonder Why It Is I Love Him So?’ A particular standout is Paul Sharman’s ‘To the Hills’, which masterfully incorporates Ernest Rance’s ‘To the Hills I Lift My Eyes’. For personal reasons, this song holds a special place in my heart, so it is a blessing to hear this wonderful arrangement.
The recording sound quality delivered by World of Sound is second to none and the ISB, once again, are in fine form.
Manuscripts II offers music that deserves your full attention. Don’t just play it in the background while preparing Sunday lunch: take time to immerse yourself in the musical and spiritual journey it offers.
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