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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Purcell: Royal Welcome Songs for King James II

Purcell: Royal Welcome Songs for King James II


Chacony in G minor - for Two Violins, Viola and Bass Z730

When on my sick bed I languish, Z144

True Englishmen drink a good health (Catch No. 45), Z284

Ye tuneful Muses (Welcome Song for James II, 1686)

A New Irish Tune Z646

God is gone up with a merry noise (Canon a 7), Z107

A New Scotch Tune Z 655

Save me, O God, Z51

Sound the trumpet, beat the drum, Z335

Despite being written for the celebration of royal occasions, Purcells Royal Welcome Songs were penned during a time of immense disillusionment with the monarchy. Filled with humour as well as an ironic detachment from the politics of the time, Ye tuneful muses and Sound the trumpet fizz with the dramatic energy which characterised his later operas and mark a crucial turning point in Purcells career. This programme showcases the variety and diversity of Purcells writing, opening with the Chacony in G minor, which is among the great glories of music for strings, and including When on my sick bed I languish - an amazingly impassioned piece in which he bares his soul...quintessential Purcell!

“In Ye Tuneful Muses and Sound the Trumpet, the Sixteen’s vocal forces are halved, permitting immaculately stylish singers to shine as 'soloists': Kirsty Hopkins and Katy Hill perform a beguiling duet in the first 'Song'; Daniel Collins and Jeremy Budd are hardly less compelling in Let Caesar [James] and Urania [Mary] Live, in the second.” Sunday Times, 27th August 2017

“Christophers coaxes virtuosic performances from eight members of the Sixteen, with a fine band of period instrumentalists revelling in the glories of Purcell’s unique harmonic palette. Recommended.” The Observer, 27th August 2017 ****

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Palestrina Volume 7

Palestrina Volume 7


Angelus Domini descendit de caelo a 5

Ave maris stella

In diebus illis

Beata Mariae Magdalenae

Beata Barbara

Adiuro vos, filiae Hierusalem

Caput ejus aurum optimum

Dilectus meus descendit

Susanna ab improbis senibus

Veni sponsa Christi

Missa Ave Regina caelorum

The Sixteen continues its exploration of Palestrina’s great art with the eagerly anticipated seventh album in the series which includes the Missa Ave Regina caelorum

Palestrina is perhaps the most famous of all Renaissance composers, certainly by name. By his death his reputation outshone all others. His musical legacy is prodigious even by the standards of the time - he wrote over 100 Masses - and he was the first Renaissance composer to have a complete edition of almost his whole output published in modern notation. Today some pieces are quite familiar, others less so, and much of his superb music is almost unknown. The seventh recording in The Sixteen’s celebrated series focuses on some of the pivotal women in Christian history - Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, St Barbara and Susannah.

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Macmillan: Stabat Mater

Macmillan: Stabat Mater


Stabat Mater (plainsong)


Stabat Mater

world premiere recording

Read our exclusive interviews with James MacMillan and Harry Christophers about the project.

Includes the world premiere recording of James MacMillan's Stabat Mater.

Few living composers communicate with the emotional directness of Sir James MacMillan, and performances of his new Stabat Mater are eagerly anticipated. The Sixteen gave the world premiere of this work at a series of concerts in October 2016 as well as recording the work for their own record label, CORO. For MacMillan, 'beauty is at the heart of our Christian faith' and the Stabat Mater is sure to be profoundly shaped by his beliefs. But this is a work with deep roots and a universal message, a celebration of both tradition and radical renewal.

“his Stabat Mater is both moving and original in its word-setting and especially in its creation of atmosphere”, February 2017 ****

“It’s a devastatingly powerful evocation of Mary’s agony, balancing impassioned choral writing with equally intense, occasionally violent, work for the strings of the Britten Sinfonia...Wonderfully sung; profoundly moving.” The Guardian, 12th March 2017 ****

“There is deference to the power of plainsong in the chanted opening, the timelessness of which feeds into the sublime harmonic journey of the ensuing movements. MacMillan’s unfolding of the text and its instrumental halo are masterfully judged. I defy any atheist not to be moved by such a profound musical interpretation of religious belief.” The Scotsman, 10th April 2017 *****

“…without doubt the work's impact is immeasurably heightened by the exceptional performance it receives here…Christopher's adoration of MacMillan's Stabat Mater radiates out of every moment of this compelling performance…the Britten Sinfonia have tremendously incisve rhythmic bite.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

“This is an amazing high emotion choral masterpiece in MacMillan's distinctive style, incredibly difficult for the singers and the string orchestra. The recording was made October 31 / November 1, 2016 in London's St. Augustine's Church, and engineers have captured the rich sounds of the venue in proper perspective…An important issue!” Classical CD Review, April 2017

“Macmillan’s visceral approach to word-setting can generate genuine and immediate emotional involvement in his listeners…Warmly recommended.” Choir & Organ, May 2017 *****

“His vivid, trenchant string writing is realised with striking clarity by the Britten Sinfonia in this recording, made just a fortnight after the same performers gave the world premiere last October in London. The Sixteen’s singing is predictably high in quality. Cries, shouts, whispers, glissandos, episodes of ululating melisma, all feature…in [MacMillan’s] quest to render musically the visceral emotional content of the Stabat Mater” BBC Music Magazine, June 2017 ****

“Even though I am sure there is much more in this Stabat Mater than I have yet discerned I am already confident that it is a masterpiece. It should be heard by anyone who values eloquent contemporary music.” MusicWeb International, 30th May 2017

“Its stark but searing beauty is brilliantly illuminated by the powerfully nuanced voices of The Sixteen and the poetically rich accompaniment of the Britten Sinfonia, by turns cosseting and excoriating.” Classical Ear, 21st June 2017 *****

GGramophone Awards 2017

Shortlisted - Contemporary

GGramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - May 2017

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The Sixteen sing Poulenc

The Sixteen sing Poulenc


Mass in G major

Un soir de neige

Litanies à la Vierge noire

Quatre motets pour le temps de Noël

Quatre motets pour un temps de pénitence

Salve Regina

Ave verum corpus

Francis Poulenc is considered one of the greatest melodists of the 20th century but it is his individual and immediately recognisable harmonic language that makes his music so distinctive. Often overlooked in his lifetime and in the years after his death, his sacred music was an expression of his more serious side and, following the death of his close friend, Pierre-Octave Ferroud, a re-awakening of his religious faith. The Sixteen’s new recording centres round the themes of conflict and atonement, reflecting both Poulenc’s intense internal struggles and the turbulence of life in France during the mid-20th century.

“The Sixteen provide us with beauty in generous quantities, together with elegant phrasing, clear words and immaculate tuning” BBC Music Magazine, October 2017 ****

“The loss of companion Pierre-Octave Ferroud reawakened Poulenc’s religious faith and led him to write some glorious music, touched equally with sadness and with hope. The Sixteen perfectly convey that combination in a nuanced and faithful version of motets and other pieces…” Choir & Organ, May 2017 ****

“This well recorded programme features some of the finest in performances that are idiomatic, and technically accomplished.” Classical Music, May 2017 ****

“[In the Mass] the fullness of the choral sound is hard to beat and the rhythmically exhilarating Gloria is the stuff of dreams. This is sumptuous recording of flawless singing and intense music making.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2017

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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.

“This is a disc which anybody remotely interested in Rubbra will want to purchase.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2016 ****

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

“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 ****

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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 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

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

“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 ***

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The Deer’s Cry: The Sixteen sing Pärt, Byrd & Tallis

The Deer’s Cry: The Sixteen sing Pärt, Byrd & Tallis


Miserere nostri

Tallis / Byrd


Diliges Dominum

Christe qui Lux

Miserere mihi, Domini

Tribue, Domine

Emendemus in melius

O Lux beata Trinitas

Ad Dominum cum tribularer

Laetentur coeli


The Deer's Cry

Nunc dimittis

The Woman With The Alabaster Box


When Jesus went into Simon the Pharisee's house

Whilst coming from very different eras, William Byrd and Arvo Pärt are both considered masters of sacred music despite having faced considerable persecution for their work. This programme presents six of William Byrd’s works from the Cantiones Sacrae including the monumental Tribue, Domine, and the mighty eight-voice motet Ad Dominum cum tribularer. The three works by Arvo Pärt speak in his unmistakable voice, with its unique blend of ancient and modern, and include his mesmerising Nunc dimittis which is crafted in his bell-like ‘tinitinnabuli’ style.

“It’s fascinating to compare Tallis and Pärt’s different but complementary treatments of the Woman with the Alabaster Box parable. Music and singing of hypnotic beauty.” Sunday Times, 31st January 2016

“The Sixteen perform music of composers born four centuries apart, both persecuted for their religious faith...In each case their choral writing has a simplicity and intensity, perfectly suited to the blended sound of the Sixteen.” The Guardian, 31st January 2016

“Those favouring sonic beauty above all else will find 'The Deer's Cry' an essential addition. Larger forces and fuller voices give The Sixteen a textural depth Stile Antico and The Tallis Scholars neither seek nor attain, thickening the sound without obscuring the architectural workings of these complex pieces of's hard to wish greater restraint of such glorious singing.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2016

“[The Deer's Cry] is a deceptively easy-looking piece on the page, but keeping its halting, minimalist ground-rhythm pulsing meaningfully, and building the slow-burn crescendo over several minutes requires advanced levels of technical proficiency. That, of course, is what The Sixteen majors in, and its performance combines a scrupulous accuracy with a pregnant sense of ritual and contemplative mystery” BBC Music Magazine, April 2016 ****

Presto Discs of 2016


Coro - COR16140



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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

Coro - COR16134



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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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