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Byrd Edition Volume 13 - Infelix ego
The Cardinall’s Musick’s award-winning Byrd series reaches its final volume, which includes some of the composer’s most sublime and adventurous music, drawn in the main from the 1591 Cantiones Sacrae collection. Throughout this series it has become evident that a comprehensive survey such as this shows the genius of the composer in a uniquely effective way: by demonstrating the extraordinary variety and unsurpassable quality of his musical and liturgical achievements.
Andrew Carwood defines Byrd as the greatest composer of the age in his booklet note—as he writes: ‘If there is an English musician who comes close to Shakespeare in his consummate artistry, his control over so many genres and his ability to speak with emotional directness it must be William Byrd.’
The ‘title track’ of this volume, Infelix ego, is the crowning glory of Byrd’s achievement as a composer of spiritual words and one of the greatest artistic statements of the sixteenth century. This remarkable text, taking the form of a number of rhetorical statements and questions, shows the whole gamut of emotion from a soul in torment—guilt, fear, embarrassment, anger, but crucially the gift of release when Christ’s mercy is accepted. It can be seen as a microcosm of Byrd’s sacred music and a fitting crown to this series.
“The musical imagination of The Cardinall's Music does full justice to that of Byrd. The group's delivery is a sensual delight, as an individual singer's colours will flash up in polyphonic lines, then pool together with others in homophony.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2010 ****
“the craftsmanship [is] impeccable, and the expression seemingly so heartfelt...There is and has been much to praise...the commitment of singers and label alike is a cause for gratitude, perhaps even optimism. Congratulations to all concerned.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2010
Presto Disc of the Week
4th October 2010
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England My England
Psalm 67: God be merciful unto us, and bless us
All people that on earth do dwell
arr. Vaughan William
The Wallace Collection
Jubilate Deo in C major (1961)
Ave verum Corpus
To be sung of a summer night on the water, No. 1
arr. John Cameron
Gardiner, H B:
Evening Hymn (Te lucis ante terminum)
Hosanna to the son of David
Drop, drop, slow tears
Goodenough, R P:
Psalm 150: O praise God in his holiness
Praise my soul, the King of Heaven
Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd
Coronation Anthem No. 1, HWV258 'Zadok the Priest'
Academy of Ancient Music
Messiah: Hallelujah Chorus
Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields
Faire is the Heaven
I Vow to Thee, My Country
Greater love hath no man
Michael Pearce (treble) & Paul Robinson (bass)
When I survey the wondrous Cross
Monk, W H:
Abide with me
Psalm 84: O how amiable are thy dwellings
Dear Lord and Father of Mankind (Repton)
Thomas Bullard (baritone)
I was glad
Come ye sons of art (Ode for Queen Mary's birthday, 1694), Z 323
David Hansen (alto)
Academy of Ancient Music
Thou know'st, Lord, Z 58c
David Blackadder, Phillip Bainbridge, Susan Addison & Stephen Saunders (flatt trumpets)
Pie Jesu (from Requiem)
Edward Saklatvala (treble)
City of London Sinfonia
Requiem - Requiem aeterna
City of London Sinfonia
The Day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended (St Clement)
Beati quorum via, Op. 38 No. 3
Evening Service in G, Op. 81: Magnificat
Alastair Hussain (treble)
Spem in alium for eight five-part choirs '40-part Motet'
O nata lux de lumine 5vv
If ye love me
Song for Athene
Come down, O Love divine (Down Ampney)
Let all the world in every corner sing
English Chamber Orchestra
Mass in G minor – Kyrie
John Eaton (treble), Nigel Perrin (alto), Robin Doveton (tenor) & David van Asch (bass)
When David Heard
Thomas Williamson, Peter Stevens, Oliver Brett, James Lancelot, Benjamin Bayl, James Vivian, Tom Winpenny, Christopher Hughes (organ scholars)
Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, Cambridge University Musical Society Chorus, New Philharmonia Orchestra & Band of the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall, Stephen Cleobury, Sir Philip Ledger & Sir David Willcocks
There is surely no more quintessentially English sound than that of the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, its unaccompanied voices – evocative of immemorial sandstone, of cool cloisters, of evensong in church, chapel and cathedral – serene in the music of Shakespeare’s contemporaries Byrd and Gibbons, ethereal in Delius heard of a summer’s night across the Backs of the River Cam.
No less iconic is the chapel that lends its unique acoustic to that sound. One of the glories of the English perpendicular style of architecture, it was eventually completed in 1547, a little over a century after the founding of the college itself by Henry VI.
This collection opens and closes with coronation music: Zadok the Priest was written for the crowning of George II in 1727, I was glad for that of Edward VII in 1902. Both were so successful that they have been sung at every coronation since their premières. Parry’s ‘processional anthem’ is heard here in its full panoply of extra brass and shouted Vivats, the choir of King’s choir providing the semi-chorus in the exquisite interlude ‘O pray for the peace of Jerusalem’.
In between are motets ancient and modern – from the miniature If ye love me and the architectural splendour of the 40-part Spem in alium to William Harris’s dramatic double-choir Spenser setting Faire is the Heaven; well-known psalms sung to Anglican chant; and favourite hymns, notably All people that on earth do dwell, arranged ceremonially for another coronation, that of Elizabeth II.
As well as national rejoicing there is solemn remembrance. Come ye sons of art away is Purcell’s 1694 birthday ode for Queen Mary, Thou knowest, Lord part of the music he wrote for her funeral just nine months later. John Ireland’s Greater love hath no man is often heard on Remembrance Sunday; Sir John Tavener’s Song for Athene made a powerful impression at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales; while John Rutter’s small-scale, personal Requiem touched a wider public following the attacks of 11 September 2001. But ‘Nimrod’ above all epitomises music of national remembrance. Here a choral setting of it, Lux aeterna, represents our ‘Shakespeare of music’, Edward Elgar.
“This anthology… is undeniably useful in gathering to one place these scattered gems of excellence, the more so the King's College performances guarantee a consistently high level of interpretation in repertoire they would regard as home territory.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2009 ****
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