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Where late the sweet birds sang
Magnificat delivers once again; ‘Where late the sweet birds sang’ is a gorgeous contrapuntal choral collection of works by three of the leading Elizabethan composers, featuring some of the repertoire’s best singers.
Since the time of Byrd Westminster and Winchester Cathedrals have been renowned as two of England’s finest choral cathedrals.
The choristers on this recording, from Westminster and Winchester, maintain that lineage, their voices blending seamlessly and naturally.
The recording was made in St. George’s church in Chesterton, Cambridge which is of a similar scale to Waltham Abbey where Byrd was composing.
Byrd is increasingly recognised as a composer of great importance and ‘Where late the sweet birds sang’ will show that White and Parsons are equally exciting and deserving of renewed attention.
Magnificat are one of the world’s premier vocal ensembles whose recordings have met with huge critical acclaim: Thomas Tallis’ Spem in alium was hailed as ‘quite the best recording’ by Gramophone Magazine and was First Choice in Building A Library on BBC Radio 3's CD Review. In addition their recording of Victoria’s Officium Defunctorum was named Critics’ Choice by Gramophone Magazine and chosen by The Rough Guide as one of its 100 Essential Classical CDs.
Directed by Philip Cave, Magnificat specialises in the restoration and performance of neglected choral masterpieces of the 16th and 17th centuries.
In association with Linn Records, Magnificat has undertaken many highly successful recording projects of music from ‘The Golden Age’, including works by Gesualdo, Guerrero, Josquin, Rebelo, Victoria, Allegri, Tallis, Rogier and Palestrina.
“The sober packaging of this disc gives little indication of the pleasure within. Pass it over at your peril...the long lines of intertwining and unfolding polyphony, performed with warmth and purity, is the reason to buy this inspirational CD.” The Observer, 9th December 2012
“There is such precision and care paid to the progress of the music and its phrases that you can almost see Philip Cave placing each note carefully, exactly where he wants it. That's not to say Magnificat's sound is in any way bland in its meticulousness - far from it. The blend and ensemble of the voices is beyond reproach.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2013
“The subtle hues of the choir, an elite corps from Winchester Cathedrals, are particularly impressive in Byrd's Lamentation, a piece in which voicing gives the music its momentum. Yet the beauty of this choir is, ironically, its greatest weakness.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2013 ****
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Tune thy Musicke to Thy Hart
Tudor & Jacobean music for private devotion
O ye little flock
A stranger here
Jesu, mercy, how may this be?
Why do I use my paper, inke and penne?
Never weather-beaten sail
From profound centre of my heart
I shame at mine unworthiness
See, see, the Word is incarnate
In nomine a 4 No. 1
In nomine a 4 No. 2
How are the mighty fallen
Purge me, O Lord
In nomine a 4
O Praise the Lord, All Ye Heathen
When David Heard
Stile Antico (joined by Fretwork) explore long-neglected repertory: the wealth of Tudor and Jacobean sacred music written for domestic devotion, rather than for church worship. Culled from collections intended for use in private homes, these pieces by Tomkins, Campion, Byrd, Tallis, Dowland, Gibbons and others, offer a unique insight into the turbulent religious climate of the time and the thriving musical culture at its heart.
Stile Antico is now established as one of the most original and exciting voices in its field. Much in demand in concert, the group performs regularly throughout Europe and North America. Their recordings are the best-sellers on the harmonia mundi label, winning awards including the Diapason d’or de l’année and the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik, and have twice attracted GRAMMY nominations. Their release Song of Songs won the 2009 Gramophone Award for Early Music and reached the top of the US Classical Chart.
Few ensembles can match the breadth of Fretwork’s repertoire, which ranges from the first printed collection published in 1501 in Venice to music commissioned by the group this year. In the 25 years since its debut, Fretwork’s pioneering work has taken its members all over the world. Their consistently high standards have brought music old and new to audiences hitherto unfamiliar with the inspiring sound-world of the viol.
Fretwork’s acclaimed recordings of the classic English viol repertory – Purcell, Gibbons, Lawes, Byrd – have become the benchmark by which other performances are measured. Its arrangements of the music of J. S. Bach have garnered particular praise. Released in 2009, the harmonia mundi recording of Purcell’s Complete Fantazias won the Gramophone Award for Baroque Chamber Music.
“We are, perhaps, in a wood-panelled Elizabethan hall, where in the early 17th century the family of a large house gather for their private prayer. Voices and viols mix in harmony, ranging from the familiar simplicity of Thomas Campion's "Never weather-beaten sail" to the elaborate verse anthem by Orlando Gibbons's "See, see the word is incarnate"...Another triumph” The Observer, 29th January 2012
“The beautifully blended voices of Stile Antico give this music with all the intensity that its emotional content merits. But then every work here fairly burns itself on the heart.” Sunday Times, 12th February 2012
“the performances are wonderfully fresh, revelling in the harmonic false relations and affectingly attentive to the import of the words.” The Telegraph, 18th February 2012 *****
“a varied treasure trove of seldom heard but extremely affecting music, nicely sung and spliced together with some darkly-glittering string In Nomines played by Fretwork...[They] easily persuade us that there is such a thing as beautiful simplicity.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2012 ****
“Stile Antico's sleek tuning and supple attention to words, and the studio recording, intimate but not claustrophobic, do bring a carefully plotted span (over 120 years) of sacred styles into our listening rooms with rare success.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2012
“another winner from the 12-voice ensemble Stile Antico... The two pieces by Thomas Tomkins, O praise the Lord and When David heard, epitomise the expressive richness of the style. But the simplicity of Campion’s Never weather-beaten sail is also gorgeous, and there’s an unexpected rocking figure, John Browne’s much earlier Jesu, mercy, how may this be?, that becomes a real earworm. The contributions of the viol consort Fretwork are equally fine” Irish Times, 20th April 2012 *****
“The group's singing is, as ever, breathtakingly beautiful” Classical Music, 2nd June 2012 ****
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Hear My Words: Choral Classics from St John’s
As exclusive Chandos artists, the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge here presents its second release. The first CD, of choral music by Howells (CHAN10587), was released to rave reviews in March this year. Choir and Organ wrote: ‘There is musicianship here of a rare and moving kind.’ This new release of popular choral classics should meet with a similar reception while at the same time appealing to a wider audience.
Established in the 1670s, the Choir of St John’s has a distinguished tradition of performing religious music. Its main duty is singing the daily services in the College Chapel during the University Term. During the University vacation the Choir carries out engagements in the UK and overseas, as well as undertaking a busy recording schedule. This particular release was recorded in the College Chapel in full surround-sound. The disc not only sounds spectacular, but recreates to an uncanny degree the experience of listening to the Choir perform in the chapel.
The music itself represents a time span of nearly 500 years of choral music. The earliest piece dates from the first half of the sixteenth century, and the newest was composed as recently as 2007. The styles and genres are varied, but there are clear links between the works throughout. For example, several are based on texts from the psalms, and the works by Pärt, Parsons, and Rachmaninoff offer three radically different interpretations of the Ave Maria. Some of the works also add a solo instrument to the familiar mix of voices and organ. But perhaps most importantly, all the pieces recorded here sit comfortably under the heading of ‘Popular Choral Classics’.
Allegri’s Miserere is counted among the great classics of church music. Part of its mystique stems from its origins; for many years the work was performed only in the Sistine Chapel, and as with other works tied to a single place it became an object for pilgrimage. In this case the pilgrims included Mendelssohn, as well as Mozart who famously noted down the work from memory after leaving the Vatican, thereby risking excommunication by the Catholic Church. This new release also features Stanford’s Jubilate, which was written for Trinity College, Cambridge. Intended as part of the service of Morning Prayer, it has long been one of the most popular canticles in the Anglican repertoire. In keeping with the text, Psalm 100, the tone is festive throughout.
“The boy treble voices bring lustre and freshness to the sonority, and the singing throughout is stirring and polished.” The Telegraph, 29th October 2010 ****
“the poised, sentient performance of Allegri's famous Miserere opening the disc bespeaks dedicated preparation, both technical and spiritual. I like the spatial variegations drawn by [Andrew Nethsinga]...and the unobtrusively pregnant phrasing of the tenor plainsong interjections...John's are a choir in fulsome health” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2010 ****
“eclectic repertoire expertly sung” The Observer, 5th December 2010
“A word of reassurance to those who fear that this may be a "lovely" programme of hallowed pot-boilers...If these are indeed, as the title proclaims, "choral classics", that term must have been stretched to include all that is old and good...There are also pieces of modernity...The famous choir appear to thrive under Andrew Nethsinga's management.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2011
“It is with Allegri's impressive Miserere that the disc begins. One must congratulate those boys who rise well above their fellows...an admirable choir and a nicely varied programme.” International Record Review, December 2010
“St John's has a wonderful acoustic, neither too spacious nor too intimate, and in Andrew Nethsinga it has a director who knows how to fill every corner with grace and clarity...the choir sings suavely and radiantly without resorting to cathedral prissiness; the recorded sound is superb. A joy all round.” Classic FM Magazine, February 2011 ****
(also available to download from $11.00)
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The Gentlemen of the Chapel Royal Vocal Ensemble
Eliza, her name gives honour
Ave verum corpus
My Lady Nevell's Ground
for keyboard, MB 57
Cornysh the elder:
Ave Maria Mater Dei
Ferrabosco, A I:
Incipit Lamentatio Jeremiae Prophetae I ("... Aleph: Quodmodo sedet sola")
Incipit Lamentatio Jeremiae Prophetae II ("... Zain: Vocavi amicos meos")
Ferrabosco, A II:
In depth no man remembreth Thee, for 5 voices
Paradizo (pavan), The Sighes, The Honie-Suckle, almain
Diapente Viol Consort
Eliza is the fairest Queen
Niec van der Meulen, Robert Kuizenga
Ave Maria for 5 voices
Credo quod Redemptor
Salvator mundi, salva nos 1 - antiphonn for five voices
Miserere nostri, motet for 7 voices, P. 207
Remember me, O Lord (Psalm 106:4), anthem
Lord, to Thee I make my moan, anthem for 5 voices
Deliver us, O Lord, for 5(?) voices (doubtful)
Christe qui lux es et dies, setting for viol ensemble
Diapente Viol Consort
Christe qui lux es et dies
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