Renaissance choral music has for many years been marketed as stress-busting music to calm down the weary modern-day man or woman in a world full of uncertainty and danger. Ironically, this music was born in a period of great stress and indeed danger as the Catholic Church and emergent Protestant faith wrestled for authority over nations.
The Catholic Church rose to the challenge with some truly spectacular music, including Allegri’s famous Miserere included on this CD. Written for use exclusively by the papal choir, this music owes its popularity to the young Mozart, who having heard it once, copied the work from memory, bringing it to the outside world.
Radical thought, as so often in history, was a punishable offence in the 16th century. Those who called for church reform were often dealt with brutally, paying with their lives for exposing the machinations and wrongdoings of Popes, bishops, priests and clerics.
It was in such a climate that Palestrina, Monteverdi, Victoria and others produced their greatest religious music. This CD makes a soundtrack to the great theatre that was Roman worship in the 16th and 17th centuries, while also providing nearly 50 minutes of uplifting and spiritual music.
Booklet note, sung texts and translations.
Recording made in 1982.
“The Choir of Westminster Cathedral sounds much more brilliant than the college choirs which usually record such music. The boys (like those of St John’s, Cambridge) have a distinctive cutting edge and the vowel sounds
are less polite than those of the universities – which imparts a greater emotional thrust … this is a thrilling record, given resonance by being made in Westminster Cathedral itself, yet quite clear in sound.”
11th March 2011
“This anthology of choral works represents some of the highlights of the Catholic response to the more functional music favoured by Luther, with due eminence paid to Palestrina, father of renaissance polyphony. His "Peccantem me quotidie" has the sombre penitential tone appropriate for Lent, and...shows that Catholics could be just as austere as Protestants.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.