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William Cornysh - Stabat Mater
“Cornysh's music is a riot of abundant, often seemingly wild melody, constantly in search of wanton, abstract, dare-devil ideas. Take, for example, the extraordinary conclusion to the five-part Magnificat, where pairs of voices are challenged with music of gradually increasing complexity, peaking in an exchange of quite hair-raising virtuosity between the sopranos – and all this just for the words 'and ever shall be, world without end'! As far as the sacred works are concerned, The Tallis Scholars respond magnificently to Cornysh's audacious imagination. Theirs is a majestic and glorious sound, to be relished in full in the Stabatmater, a huge piece that survives incomplete and for which the late Frank Harrison composed treble parts that may even trump Cornysh himself in their sheer bravura. Marginally less striking in The Tallis Scholars' performances are the short partsongs and the carol Woefully arrayed, robbed as they are here of some of their latent expressiveness and strength by being sung (admittedly very beautifully) in an inappropriately resonant building, and in rounded modern English vowels. But judged as a whole this disc must be reckoned an outstanding success.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
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New York Polyphony - Tudor City
New York Polyphony’s second release for Avie is a compelling fusion of Tudor masterpieces from Byrd, Tallis, Taverner and others and contemporary works by Oslo-based English composer Andrew Smith.
Classical vocal quartet New York Polyphony struck a chord with their 2007 Avie debut, ‘I Sing the Birth’ (AV2141). An intimate meditation on the Christmas season, it garnered unanimous praise on both sides of the pond. For Gramophone Magazine it was “one of the season's best”, and it was an Editor's Christmas Choice in BBC Music Magazine. For their second release, the all-male foursome delivers their signature fusion of historically informed performances in a range of styles. Interspersed between sacred masterpieces of Tudor England are four new works by British-Norwegian composer Andrew Smith, adding a modern harmonic richness and complexity to the album. The result is a compelling synthesis of ancient and contemporary vocal music. New York Polyphony extends the mix of old world and new in the album’s title, named for the distinctive 19th-century neighbourhood on Manhattan’s East Side which is pictured in the striking cover design.
“The transitions between the ages are seemlessly effected, particularly impressive during back-to-back old and new performances of "Magnificat À Quatre". Recorded in New York's Cathedral of St John the Divine, these are beautifully blended voices of individual distinction” The Independent, 21st May 2010 ****
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