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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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Robert Parsons: Sacred Music
Gramophone award-winning ensemble The Cardinall’s Musick return to another master of the Renaissance, Robert Parsons. Very few records remain of the composer’s short life, and his musical output is often overlooked, perhaps in the shadow of the prolific William Byrd, his successor as a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal. However, his vocal writing is some of the most opulent of the period.
The Cardinall’s Musick give sublime performances of some of the composer’s most sumptuous choral works, from the remarkably sophisticated Magnificat to the dramatic O bone Jesu. As demonstrated in their previous recordings, their resonant, pure-toned singing is the perfect advocate for such exquisite polyphony. The ensemble’s seemingly effortless and magical performance of the glorious Ave Maria is the perfect conclusion to an enlightening recording.
“Carwood draws earthy, visceral performances; the ensemble's virile sound and Parsons's sinewy polyphony are a far cry from what some critics describe as the 'whitewashed', English choral tradition. Carwood and his singers highlights the inherent drama of Parson's [sic] style...Hyperion's detailed recording, swathed in the glowing acoustic of the Fitzala Chapel, Arundel Castle, enhances these seraphic performances.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2011
“The Cardinall's Musick are at their best in this repertoire, and their performances have confidence and authority...Like many composers of his time and place, Parsons can be heard to navigate between different styles according to the liturgical demands placed on him. He does so surefootedly...Parsons certainly deserves the hearing that Carwood's musicians afford us, so this addition to the catalogue is very valuable.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2011
“the disc is best in the three full choir numbers: Domine quis habitabit, where sopranos inspiringly contrast high and low; Solemnis urgebat, where they cling to the eternal heaven of a high cantus firmus; and the Magnificat where their top line canons wonderfully enrich the counterpoint. The lower-voice funeral Responds have an appropriately tomblike aura.” Classic FM Magazine, December 2011 ****
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