The Sixteen


The Sixteen

After thirty years of world-wide performance and recording, The Sixteen is recognised as one of the world’s greatest vocal ensembles. Its special reputation for performing early English polyphony, masterpieces of the Renaissance and a diversity of 20th century music is drawn from the passions of conductor and founder, Harry Christophers. Over ninety recordings reflect The Sixteen’s quality in a range of work spanning the music of five hundred years, winning many awards including Grand Prix du Disque for Handel's Messiah, numerous Schallplattenkritik, the coveted Gramophone Award for Early Music, and most recently the prestigious Classical Brit Award 2005 for 'Renaissance'.

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Song of the Nativity

Song of the Nativity

Bullard, A:

And all the stars looked down


Shepherd's Carol

Davies, Walford:

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Gardner, John:

When Christ was born of Mary free


The Holy Boy

Jackson, Gabriel:

The Christ-child


O magnum mysterium


The Strathclyde Motets: O Radiant Dawn


Now may we singen, a carol for Christmas


Adam lay ybounden

Roth, A:

Song of the Shepherds


There is a flower


Adam lay y-bounden


My Lord Has Come


The Saviour's Work

A Gallery Carol

Children's Song of the Nativity

Somerset Wassail

This endris night

Christmas Eve

Dutch Carol


Bethlehem Down

The Sixteen contrasts the dramatic intensity of music by some of today’s most admired composers with such traditional and modern carols as Boris Ord’s Adam lay ybounden and Henry Walford Davies’ version of O little town of Bethlehem. Much-loved modern classics including John Rutter’s There is a flower, Morten Lauridsen’s O magnum mysterium and James MacMillan’s O radiant dawn also appear on this beautiful album and there are many others which, in the course of time, will also become classics; every one of them by their unashamed simplicity, captures the joy and sincerity of this most wonderful of seasons. This album provides a perfect peaceful and uplifting antidote to the hectic pre-Christmas rush.

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Edmund Rubbra: Choral Works

Edmund Rubbra: Choral Works


Tenebrae Motets, Op. 72: First, Second & Third Nocturns

Missa Cantuariensis, Op. 59

Three Motets, Op. 76

Five Motets for unaccompanied choir, Op. 37

The distinctive style of Edmund Rubbra’s music is unmistakable – his love of counterpoint, his sense of tonality, and his clever working of melody make him stand out from many of his contemporaries. His writing, whilst harmonically challenging and vocally taxing, is also intensely personal and highly charged with emotion - at times mystical, at others seriously dramatic.

Though he is best-known for his orchestral works, choral music was a constant throughout his career, and a genre of particular importance to a composer of strong spiritual conviction.

In this beautiful new recording The Sixteen explores some of his little-known choral music including the extraordinary Tenebrae Nocturns and the Missa Cantuariensis with its fabulous double-choir writing.

This album also features the first recording of the Responses from the Missa Cantuariensis.

“Christophers and the Sixteen make a convincing case for a reappraisal of his choral music...Each piece is sung with the purity and sincerity we have come to expect from one of the UK’s most treasured and respected vocal ensembles.” The Observer, 11th September 2016 ****

“well-nigh flawless renderings from The Sixteen under Harry Christophers…high-class advocacy of some enormously rewarding repertoire” Classical Ear, October 2016 ****

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Helper and Protector

Helper and Protector

Italian Maestri in Poland


Timor Domini

Sancta Maria, succurre miseris

Ave verum corpus

Peccantem me quotidie


Iniquos odio habui

Missa super iniquos odio habui

Jubilate deo


Gaudent in caelis

Beati estis

Media nocte

Christus resurgens

The Sixteen, Eamonn Dougan

The fourth volume in this highly acclaimed series, conducted by The Sixteen’s Associate Conductor, Eamonn Dougan, explores the music of Italian composers working in the Polish court during the reign of Sigismund III Vasa. In 1594 Sigismund III set about reorganising his music ensemble and he decided to bring in Italian musicians, singularly esteemed at that time, and, in particular, musicians associated with the music chapels of Rome. Amongst them were Luca Marenzio, Asprillo Pacelli, and Vincenzo Bertolusi; their arrival heralded a new dawn for sacred music in Poland.

The centrepiece of this album is Marenzio’s exquisite Missa super Iniquos odio habui. The Kyrie and Gloria movements are known but the remaining parts of the Mass were feared lost following World War II, but were actually appropriated by the Soviets and have only been rediscovered since the fall of the Berlin Wall. This is the premiere recording of the complete Mass which is set alongside the motet Iniquos odio habui on which it is based.

Also included are Pacelli’s joyous Beati estis and Bertolusi’s sublime Ave verum corpus.

“The clarity of Dougan’s glossy choral textures allows the music’s rhythmic animation to penetrate, and pacing is carefully calibrated to balance moment-by-moment drama with a longer musical arc” Gramophone Magazine, August 2016

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Monteverdi: Messa a Quattro voci et salmi of 1650 Volume I

Monteverdi: Messa a Quattro voci et salmi of 1650 Volume I




Dixit [Dominus] Primo

Confitebor tibi Domine, SV194

Lauda Jerusalem a 3, SV202

Nisi Dominus I à 3 voci & duoi violini

Laudate pueri Primo à 5 concertato

Laetaniae della Beata Vergine a 6 voci

Beatus vir a 7, SV195

Monteverdi’s sacred vocal compositions introduced the expression of powerful and personal emotions to the world of church music. Whilst it took him a number of years to find fulfilment in his work, Monteverdi was a revered composer within his lifetime and his music is regarded as revolutionary, marking the change from the Renaissance style to that of the Baroque. This album comprises some of the finest works from Monteverdi’s years as director of music at St Mark’s in Venice, published posthumously in 1650 as the Messa a quattro voci et salmi.

“The Sixteen’s performances have the group’s usual unfussy directness; the sound has no churchy over-resonance about it, either, so that the intricacies of the writing are always perfectly clear.” The Guardian, 24th March 2016 ***

“Ideal consort singing.” Sunday Times, 3rd April 2016

“The Sixteen’s complete recording of the Selva morale collection has been praised in these pages, and the qualities of ensemble are certainly worth noting here also. They are heard to best effect in the more richly scored pieces: the five-voice Laetatus sum and Laudate pueri, for example.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2016

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Poetry in Music

Poetry in Music


Hymn to St Cecilia, Op. 27

East, M:

When David Heard that Absalom was Slain


Since I believe in God the Father

Harris, W:

Faire is the Heaven

Bring us, O Lord God


Take him, earth, for cherishing


The Gallant Weaver


Lay a garland

Ramsey, R:

When David heard



Rubinstein, B:

There is a spirit


Dance, Clarion Air


When David Heard


When David Heard

Ruth Provost, Kirsty Hopkins, David Clegg, Jeremy Budd, Ben Davies, Julie Cooper, Edward McMullan, Mark Dobell

The Sixteen, Harry Christophers

Does music add substance to words or is music inspired by them? Songs of departure and farewell are deeply rooted in the great tradition of British choral music, nourished by ancient myths of testing journeys, wayside transformations and homecomings. The transcendent nature of music and the power of poetry to challenge and alter perceptions of reality – harnessed by English composers over many centuries – flow through a programme that invites contemplation of life and death, of love and loss, creation and eternity. In a journey covering six centuries of musical history, The Sixteen performs a cappella anthems with powerful texts by writers as varied as Edmund Spenser, Christopher Fry and W.H. Auden.

“It is clear that this is something really special. That specialness comes not just from the fact that The Sixteen elevate everything they perform through their opulent musicality and supreme clarity of tone, but from Harry Christophers’s intuitive grasp of the marriage of music and words.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2015

“the British composers represented here, covering five centuries, all chose distinguished texts and responded with extraordinary music...The performances are beautiful and brilliant.” New York Times, 25th November 2015

GGramophone Awards 2016

Shortlisted - Choral

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2015

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Palestrina Volume 6

Palestrina Volume 6


Missa L'Homme Armé 5vv

Surge amica mea, speciosa mea (from Canticum canticorum)

Dilectus meus mihi

Peccantem me quotidie

Surgam et circuibo civitatem

Parce mihi, Domine

Si ambulavero in medio tribulationis

Tribulationes civitatum

Super flumina Babylonis

Tribularer si nescirem


SONG OF SONGS: nos. 16, 17 & 18

The Sixteen continues its acclaimed series of discs exploring the work of Italian Renaissance master, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. An enormous body of sacred works, including over 100 Masses, rightly earned Palestrina the title of ‘the prince and father of music’ and ‘the saviour of church music’. His legacy has impacted sacred music worldwide for over 400 years and composers throughout the centuries have studied and learned from his gift of writing exquisite polyphony.

Central to this sixth disc is Palestrina’s unjustly neglected 5-voice L’Homme armé Mass. Written before 1570, it is no mere technical showpiece, but contains music of the highest quality. It is accompanied on this disc by a group of penitential and devotional motets and Offertories on well known texts such as Parce mihi Domine, Si ambulavero in medio tribulationis, Tribulationes civitatem, De profundis, and Super flumina Babylonis, eliciting from Palestrina his best and most moving music. Three further Song of Songs motets in the Sixteen’s ongoing complete survey complete the CD.

“This sort of mood suits The Sixteen's brightly focused choral sound, and Harry Christophers's direction is unobtrusive but telling: the terraced approach to the final 'Kyrie' is a case in point, and the flowering into six voices in the concluding 'Agnus Dei' is particularly lovely.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2015

“Christophers artfully moulds and heightens the contours of the polyphonic lines, which ebb and flow in a liquid tapesty of sound...The Sixteen's rich, buttery sound is particularly effective for the sensual Song of Songs settings, which brim with Counter-Reformation fervour.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2015 *****

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Grzegorz Gerwazy Gorczycki

Grzegorz Gerwazy Gorczycki


Conductus funebris

Litaniae de Providentia Divina

Missa Rorate caeli

In virtute tua

O rex gloriae

Illuxit sol

Sepulto Domino

The Sixteen, Eamonn Dougan

The third disc in The Sixteen’s acclaimed series of Polish music, conducted by Associate Conductor, Eamonn Dougan, explores the work of Grzegorz Gerwazy Gorczycki (1665–1734). Regarded as the outstanding Polish composer of the high baroque, Gorczycki studied in Prague and Vienna in his early years and returned to Kraków in 1690 where he took holy orders. He was appointed Magister capellae at Wawel Cathedral in 1698, a position he held until his death. Like his predecessor Bartłomiej Pękiel (COR16110), Gorczycki wrote in both stile antico and stile moderno; the works featured in this recording display his skill in both genres. The Missa Rorate shows his mastery of counterpoint and sensitivity to word-setting, as does Illuxit Sol in which Gorczycki revels in the rhetoric of the text, painting it with lush five-part string writing; Conductus Funebris, a four-movement work setting text from the Burial Service, marries his contrapuntal skills with a more emphatic, declamatory style, while in the Litania de Providentia Divinae, Gorczycki unleashes the full power of his invention as he paints the virtues of "Divine Providence" with a glowing palate of colours.

“On this latest disc, The Sixteen and their Associate Conductor Eamonn Dougan straddle eras, keeping one foot in the composer's unaccompanied prima pratica vocal works (strongly influenced by Palestrina) and one in his seconda pratica vocal-instrumental works with their Monteverdi-influenced sonic drama...This is Italian music with just the faintest Polish accent.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2015

“It’s a curious mix. Sometimes, as in the a cappella Missa Rorate caeli (he sets both Ordinary and Proper texts), he writes in a late Renaissance manner; elsewhere, his style is more up to date, not unlike Carissimi. These performances are pristine, carefully blended and appositely devout in flavour.” Sunday Times, 19th April 2015

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Purcell: The Indian Queen

Purcell: The Indian Queen


The Indian Queen, Z630

Purcell, D:

The Masque of Hymen

Julie Cooper, Kirsty Hopkins, Jeremy Budd, Mark Dobell, Matthew Long, Ben Davies, Eamonn Dougan & Stuart Young

The Sixteen, Harry Christophers

Henry Purcell was a brilliant music dramatist and in The Indian Queen there is a plethora of detail, colour and characterisation to be explored in every symphony, air and dance. Purcell's instrumental writing leaps off the page with string writing that is second to none and a wealth of variety capped by exquisite writing for trumpet, oboes and recorders.

Based on Dryden’s play, Henry Purcell’s music from The Indian Queen deals with the conflict between the Mexican and Peruvians and principally with Queen Zempoalla. The Indian Queen is a classic story of love and war and, as with all good stories, things don’t go quite as planned for the eponymous Queen…

There is so much exceptional vocal music to revel in but none better than the extraordinary recitative You twice ten hundred deities for the magician Ismeron which opens Act III, and was described by the historian Charles Burney as “the best piece of recitative in our language”.

Like Mozart and Schubert, Henry Purcell lived all too short a life – he lived just over 30 years – and for that reason it was left to his brother Daniel to complete The Indian Queen. Daniel was no Henry but his final Hymeneal masque allows a little light relief. Act V, which was the last music that Henry wrote, is a perfect Didoesque ending to The Indian Queen proper and just proves how we as music lovers suffer when these geniuses die young.

“Christophers leads a trim, affectionate performance of Purcell’s last (unfinished) semi-opera. The musical forces are small and flexible, and though some previous recordings bring more star power to bear among the soloists, Purcell’s bountiful score is never short-changed.” Financial Times, 28th February 2015 ****

“It’s a delicious 72 minutes of Restoration wit and lyrical charm, performed gracefully by Harry Christophers’ the Sixteen. There are stirring trumpet tunes, one magnificent bass scene (sonorously delivered by Eamonn Dougan), and fine solos from rising young singers such as Kirsty Hopkins and Matthew Long.” The Times, 28th February 2015 ****

“Henry’s music has dwindled to one song, but his contributions are of consistently finer quality...than his relative’s. Christophers has less famous names than Hogwood did (Kirkby, Ainsley, Finley), but Matthew Long, Eamonn Dougan and Julie Cooper’s solos are all outstanding, and their voices blend superbly in the choruses.” Sunday Times, 29th March 2015

“A fine scene for the magician suavely done by Eamonn Dougan. The band play adroitly in a few curtain tunes and the Overture...High tenor Matthew Long dispatches Fame's 'Begone, curst fiends of Hell' impressively...this is an engaging advocacy of Purcell's final and seemingly incomplete opera.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2015

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Flight of Angels

Flight of Angels

Guerrero, Francisco:

Duo Seraphim

Missa Surge propera: Gloria

Laudate Dominum

Maria Magdalene

Missa de la batalla escoutez: Credo

Vexilla Regis

Missa Congratulamini mihi: Agnus Dei I

Missa Congratulamini mihi: Agnus Dei II

Lobo, A:

Missa Maria Magdalene: Kyrie

Libera me

Ave Regina caelorum

Ave Maria

Versa est in luctum

Harry Christophers talks to Presto's David Smith about Flight of Angels here.

The Sixteen takes a trip back to 16th-century Spain and more specifically to one of the biggest, richest and most cosmopolitan cities on earth - Seville. It was during this 'golden age', when arts and culture flourished, that Francisco Guerrero and Alonso Lobo made their mark. Between them these two composers captured an astonishing variety of moods within their music, from ecstasy and joy to despair, longing and devotional stillness.

“Christophers has devised a sequence that weaves together strikingly beautiful liturgical settings by both composers...The Sixteen performances may be a little detached and disembodied at times, but the poised beauty of their singing never fails.” The Guardian, 27th March 2015 ****

“Most of the music is written for at least six voices (usually more), a richness of texture to which The Sixteen respond admirably: the textures remain lucid and legible throughout.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2015

“As so often Christophers and the Sixteen prove to be the most persuasive advocates imaginable…[and]a commendably helpful essay by Martyn Imrie sets the seal on an outstanding release, beautifully recorded and scintillatingly sung. Vivant Sedecim!” Early Music Today, May 2015

“this programme…offers much warmth and richness of recorded sound” Choir & Organ, May 2015

Presto Discs of 2015


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Spirit, Strength & Sorrow

Spirit, Strength & Sorrow

Five settings of the Stabat Mater


Stabat Mater

Firsova, E:

Stabat Mater


Stabat Mater

Martin, M:

Stabat Mater

Scarlatti, D:

Stabat Mater a 10 voci

Spirit, Strength & Sorrow is the staggering result of The Sixteen’s third collaboration with the Genesis Foundation and demonstrates, once again, their joint commitment to nurturing new artistic talent. This CD features three brand new settings of the Stabat Mater from emerging composers, Alissa Firsova, Tõnu Kõrvits and Matthew Martin alongside those by Claudio Casciolini and Domenico Scarlatti.

Harry Christophers writes: ‘I find it staggering to think that it was only eight years ago when I first met John Studzinsiki. We had been invited to perform a very special work by Will Todd, aptly written for sixteen solo voices, which John had commissioned for his birthday. From this moment began a fruitful, meaningful and, above all, inspirational collaboration with John and the Genesis Foundation. Every project since has emanated from John’s devotion to the Catholic faith and his love of the wonderful poetry which encapsulates Christianity as well as his laudable mission to promote and nurture young talent.’

“Three new responses to the text, commissioned by John Studzinski’s Genesis Foundation, are sung here with faultless clarity by the Sixteen...Each is a significant contribution to the repertoire, sitting proudly alongside more familiar settings from Scarlatti and Casciolini, and all meticulously directed by Harry Christophers.” The Observer, 16th November 2014 ****

“All three [new works] are worth hearing and Domenico Scarlatti’s “Stabat Mater” makes a highly enjoyable Baroque companion for them.” Financial Times, 29th November 2014 ****

“All three [new settings] are touching and effective: imaginative in their choral sonorities and colouring of the text, skilfully balancing a strong feeling for tradition with a distinctive individual voice...At moments in their intimate and elegiac performance of the Scarlatti I wanted a dose of Latin theatricality. But in the new works their singing, technically and expressively, is beyond criticism.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2015

“Of the three contemporary works featured, Matthew Martin's is technically the most ambitious...It's an absorbing, highly accomplished piece of vocal writing, tailor-made to stretch a choir of The Sixteen's ability...For sinuous beauty, though, Domenico Scarlatti's gorgeous ten-part setting takes some beating, deliciously accompanied here by theorbo, harp and organ.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2015 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2015

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