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Live in Oxford
... enthralling - a glorious testimony to a golden age of music
BBC Music Magazine
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Memento Mei: Songs from the Time of Albertus Pictor
In 1509 one of the greatest Swedish painters, Albertus Pictor, passed away. On church walls and church ceilings, he has told the stories of the Bible and of the eternal questions of life through his art.
The same themes also inspired the composers of the time to move us with musical stories of the Virgin Mary, the life of Christ and of love, death, pain and joy in medieval and renaissance Europe. Medieval man constantly strived to ensure his place in heaven through prayers and good deeds.
Most of all, he turned to the Virgin Mary to pray for her intercession. Above Albertus Pictor’s self portrait in the church of Lid, where he paints himself as a fashion concious man in his prime, he has even written Memento mei Alberto pictor huius ecclesie – ”Remember me, Albertus, painter of this church”
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Stella Del Nostro Mar
Past and present reflections of the Marian inspiration
Recorded at Chiesa della B.V. Maria del Monte Carmelo al Colletto, Italy, in May, June and August 2007 and April 2008.
After completing their original trilogy devoted to Guillaume Dufay (two volumes of motets and one of chansons) and before setting out on their next large-scale project, Giuseppe Maletto and Cantica Symphonia reduced their ensemble to its vocal core and arranged themselves in front of the microphones in order to make what quite possibly will be the most personal disc of their careers. The result was a series of intimate sessions made across 2007 and 2008, all of them in the acoustic where they rehearse, perform and have recorded for many years, whose quincentenary is currently being commemorated. Maletto and his singers deliver an anthology of motets and laude inspired by the Virgin Mary, many of them hitherto little-known.To the Renaissance compositional voices of Mouton, Isaac, Willaert and Peñalosa are joined for this occasion two living composers, Carlo Galante and Yakov Gubanov, with works written especially for Cantica Symphonia. An excellent and original a capella disc, performed by one of today's most invigorating early music ensembles.
“The vocal quartet's tone is gentle and not overly assertive… at its best the results are very satisfying. Isaac's setting of the popular Alma redemptoris chant is glowingly done, and incidentally captures the outgoing euphony that makes him such an attractive composer.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2009
“an intense musical and spiritual experience…Blend, control and breadth of tone abound…if Renaissance polyphony is one of your great loves, then this is a most important addition to your listening library.” Organists Review
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A Mother’s Love
Music For Mary
“Despite undoubted stylistic variety in the choice of music, the homogeneity of the sentiment here can be a little stifling. The Sixteen's performances are, however, irreproachably sympathetic.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2007 ****
“With its sentimental title, this collection is clearly aimed at the wider market–place. But the programme is perceptively chosen to show how much wonderful music the image of the Virgin Mary has inspired over five centuries. Grieg's opening Ave maris stella is immediately inviting: it has a ravishing simplicity but is passionate too and it is followed by rich, lively music by Cornysh and Josquin laced with the special harmonic character of its period. Next comes expansive Bruckner with a thundering organ and then a delightful surprise, Saint–Saëns's delicious Ave Maria – a real hit.
The simple beauty of Britten's A Hymn to theVirgin captivates the ear, while Mendelssohn's readily melodic and characteristically ambitious Ave Maria moves forward with great fervour, splendidly climaxed by Christophers. Other highlights include Margaret Rizza's richly plangent Ave generosa, eloquently set to words by Hildegard of Bingen, and the romantically soaring Fauré Ave Maria, again using the organ to add background colour, followed by the gentle contrast of Palestrina's Sicut lilium.
Liszt wrote his Ave maris stella while awaiting ordination as Abbé in the Vatican: its hint of austerity is not entirely banished by a natural exuberance which intensifies the plea 'Loosen the chains of the guilty' with which Liszt no doubt closely identified. The programme ends with the dedicated, passionate serenity of Lassus's Salve regina, a most satisfying coda.
Performances throughout show this marvellous choir at their most eloquent, beautifully balanced and blended. Highly recommended for sheer pleasure, but also as a way of exploring a wide range of repertoire.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“…the programme is perceptively chosen to show how much wonderful music the image of the Virgin Mary has inspired over five centuries. Performances throughout show this marvellous choir at their most eloquent, beautifully balanced and blended. Highly recommended for sheer pleasure, but also as a way of exploring a wide range of repertoire.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2007
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