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The Phoenix Rising
The Carnegie Trust & the revival of Tudor Church Music
Amongst the many endeavours funded by the Carnegie Trust (marking its centenary in 2013) was the publication and editing of 'Tudor Church Music' in ten large folio volumes of music, with 50 performing pieces published individually. This had a considerable impact on the revival of this important music: for the first time a significant body of the greatest Tudor compositions became accessible to scholars, performers and listeners having languished in cathedrals, museums and colleges. It also inspired a further generation of English composers after its resurrection including Howells, Britten and Vaughan Williams.
Stile Antico presents a varied selection of the finest pieces from TCM in a programme centred around William Byrd’s masterful five-part mass.
Stile Antico is an elite ensemble of young British singers, working without a conductor, each contributing artistically to the musical result. They are now established as the crack ensemble to beat, having enjoyed huge success, via their SACD recordings for harmonia mundi USA. Awards include the 2009 Gramophone Award for Early Music [Song of Songs] which also reached the top of the US Classical Chart. Their performances have repeatedly been praised for their vitality, commitment and imaginative response to text.
Highlights of Stile Antico's 2012-13 season include a series of concerts as co-curators of the Wigmore Hall's William Byrd: Sacred Music festival, and this new recording celebrating the centenary of the Carnegie UK Trust, publisher of the pioneering Tudor Church Music edition.
Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.
“exemplary tuning and discipline. The more elaborate and spacious the music, the warmer the interpretation...only Byrd’s Ave Verum sounds a bit bloodless.” The Times, 20th July 2013 ****
“Stile Antico honour the endeavour with their customary clean lines, pure tone and precise articulation. If all that sounds a bit efficient, I'm struggling to say only that it is music making at the highest level.” The Observer, 11th August 2013
“such is the assurance, unanimity, flow and architectural grasp of their performances that one would never know they are not under the guiding hand of a conductor. Clearly this is all the result of scrupulous preparation...The singing itself is well-nigh flawless and the sound this group makes is a constant source of pleasure.” MusicWeb International, 4th September 2013
“The expertise of the Stile Antico group in this repertory is not in doubt and, as always, these singers give us splendid performances. Gibbon's O Clap Your Hand, for example, has a sure-footed exuberance...the overall effect is extremely professional and pleasing.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2013 ****
“That the performances on this disc are given with the customary Stile Antico level of excellence goes without saying; what pleases most is the commitment and passion with which the ensemble sings [these] works... reminding us of the striking beauty of this repertoire.” Early Music Today, Autumn 2013
“Its collective (conductorless) approach pays particular dividends in this repertoire where the music depends on an instinctive reaction from the individual singers...Stile Antico presents it with a glorious and compelling freshness...we have a release which in its own way is quite as wonderful as the original Carnegie-funded editions.” International Record Review, September 2013
“There's a forthright quality to the voices of Stile Antico, and especially its sopranos, that suits this English repertoire, balancing beauty with an intensity that reminds us that this is the music of protest and oppression as well as faith.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2013
“The performances are of the exceptionally polished standard that has earned Stile Antico’s choice of repertoire here is well balanced between established favourites and lesser-known “phoenix” works that are rarely if ever recorded. The group such a high reputation around the world; it’s a real box of treasures!” David Smith, Presto Classical, 29th July 2014
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Music from the reign of King James I
Westminster Abbey has been the focus of British royal occasions for centuries, and the early seventeenth century saw the most dazzling musicians of the age writing music for the Court in all its various incarnations. This fascinating disc presents a selection of works from the reign of King James I.
The most celebrated name on this disc is that of Orlando Gibbons, and some of his most masterly works are presented here including the gloriously contrapuntal O clap your hands and the startlingly original verse anthem See, see, the Word is incarnate, setting an extraordinary text which covers the whole of the liturgical year.
The most eloquent and emotionally intense music recorded here was most likely never intended for performance in the Abbey, or any other church, but has a particularly Royal relevance. The laments of King David were set by many composers of this period. These moving texts have no place in the liturgy, being neither part of the Ordinary of Psalms and canticles, nor able to furnish a seasonally appropriate or devotional anthem. Their composition seems therefore to have been a response to the death in November 1612 of the Prince of Wales, Prince Henry. These are courtly laments, in which the composers give voice – and perhaps vied to give voice most eloquently – to the grief of the King (in the settings of David’s lament for his son Absalom) and Prince Charles (in the ‘Jonathan’ pieces, in which the king describes his friend as ‘my brother’). Included is the best known of all the ‘Absalom’ pieces, Tomkins’s When David heard, together with his equally moving ‘Jonathan’ setting, Then David mourned.
“Where words and music most happily merge - for instance in Gibbons's Hosanna to the Son of David - the director and his vocalists exude confidence, animating melodic lines gracefully to reach a satisfying climax. In the largely contrapuntal O clap your hands, O'Donnell's deft handling of voices brings a lovely delicacy to the texture.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2011 ***
“The laments by Tomkins and Ramsey, and Gibbons's "O Lord, in thy wrath", all sung unaccompanied, are moving in their intensity...this recording should be snapped up by all lovers of the period.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2011
“The hero of the disc is...the Abbey's sub-organist Robert Quinney...Stylish, tastefully registered and crisply delivered [the four Gibbons organ pieces] are in their way true gems...many choirs would envy the tight ensemble, impeccable intonation and crystal-clear diction, not to mention the unfailingly excellent solo voices drawn from the ranks of the choir” International Record Review, March 2011
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Music of the Realm: Tudor Music for Men's Voices
Gibbons: Church Music
The world renowned choir of King’s College Cambridge and their iconic director, Sir David Willcocks, give performances of the church music of Orlando Gibbons, a composer who had close associations with the Cambridge college. Included are the famous anthems ‘This is the record of John’ and ‘Hosanna to the son of David’.
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Gibbons: Church Music
“The artistry of the performers perfectly matches Gibbons's demands in this Critics' Choice disc. Limpid clarity, sensitivity to text and earnest delivery reveal the subtleties of the composer's writing.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2007 ****
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Peace on Earth
Sacred and secular music by Orlando Gibbons
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Gibbons: Anthems & Instrumental Music
Jeffrey Thomas (tenor), John Butt (organ)
University of California Chamber Chorus, Berkeley Festival Consort of Viols, John Butt
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Gibbons: Choral and Organ Music
“The Oxford Camerata provides a representative selection of choral works by Gibbons, together with three of his organ pieces. The programme is introduced by a bright and busy performance of the eight-part O clap your hands, followed by the noble verse anthem Great Lord of Lords – and it's pleasing to hear in this piece, and in the other verse-anthems, the rich timbre of the countertenor Robin Blaze, a welcome acquisition for the Camerata, which has a great deal of vocal talent in its make-up. They tackle the gently moving See,see, the Word is incarnate with great confidence, together with the First and Second Services and the quiet collects with all the knowledge and aplomb of cathedral lay clerks or choral scholars from Oxford and Cambridge. Laurence Cummings plays two short preludes, the one in G major – a real test of agility – from Parthenia and that in D minor from Benjamin Cosyn's VirginalBook. The Fantazia of four parts is a most extraordinary work, quite hard to steady and control.
A welcome addition to the programme.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“...a welcome addition to the programme. At a budget price, this CD is worth every penny.” Gramophone Magazine
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