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Rogier - Missa Ego sum qui sum & Motets
Although well known and highly regarded in his lifetime and in the years following his death in 1596, the music of Philippe Rogier is largely known (especially to English audiences) through one motet alone, Laboravi in gemitu meo. But there is much to explore in this genuinely underrated composer. Philippe Rogier was one of a long line of Flemish composers who worked at the Spanish court. The high regard that the musically astute Philip II held for Rogier was not misplaced, because he is one of the most fascinating and rewarding composers of the late sixteenth century: extraordinarily versatile, capable of plumbing the emotional depths in his penitential works (of which there are many) as well as exalting the heights in his festive music.
The main work on this disc includes the parody mass Missa Ego sum qui sum, based on a motet by Gombert. It must rank as one of the finest settings of the Mass ordinary of the late sixteenth century, dazzling in its invention and sheer beauty. Gombert had been one of the most influential composers of the post-Josquin period, developing a style of composition based on continuous imitation and almost relentless expressivity with an extraordinarily high level of dissonance. Rogier’s Mass seems to be a tribute to this style.
Two twelve-part accompanied motets are recorded here, pointing to a well-developed polychoral tradition at the Spanish court. The remaining motets on this recording represent different facets of the composer: desperate cries in the pentitential works and sheer exuberance in Cantantibus organis, a motet in honour of St Cecilia.
The much admired choir of King’s College London and their director David Trendell appear in their Hyperion debut.
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All The Queen’s Men: Music for Elizabeth I
‘The Virgin Queen’ Elizabeth I was the focal-point of all England; the subject, dedicatee and audience for much of the music composed and performed throughout her long and now legendary reign. The music on this album, chosen for a concert of words and music devised for the Sarum Consort by Deborah Mackay, includes sacred and secular pieces by composers from Byrd to Weelkes. The Sarum Consort here makes its Naxos début under founding musical director Andrew Mackay. “The Sarum Consort is a finely balanced and blended group… whose pacing and control of light and shade cannot be faulted.” Penguin Guide
“The Sarum Consort and its director establish and stick limpet-like to the underlying beat in this album's choice of works for vocal ensemble, catching the sibilant energy and vigour of O clap your hands and unleashing a terrific account of Morley's Hard by a crystal fountain. I've heard other early music ensembles, including household names, make heavy weather of pieces that emerge here with lightness and clarity.” Classic FM Magazine, June 2011 ****
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“So much first-rate 16th-century music still remains unrecorded, but here's a welcome addition.
Philippe Rogier's death at the age of 35 in 1596 cut short a prolific stream of music. Worse was to come. In 1734 a fire destroyed the library of the Spanish royal chapel, which must have held a large number of his compositions (at the time of his death he was chief court musician to Philip II).
How large a number can be gauged from the terrible earthquake that struck Lisbon in 1755, swallowing up the royal library along with 243 works.
Today we're left with only 51, of which the present recital represents a sizeable proportion.
Rogier's music has Palestrina's imposing solidity and classical feel, but is more florid and freer in its use of dissonance. In this sense it looks forward to later Iberian music of the 17th century, achieving a sustained intensity in the motets. The Mass is a consummate demonstration, the skilful working out of a motet by Gombert, whose influence is very audible. The booklet-note rightly points out how Rogier develops his model in very different directions: the sequences that conclude most movements are persuasively managed, but sound utterly unlike Gombert.
Rogier's Mass Domine Dominus noster appears in a fine recording on Ricercar. But Magnificat's interpretation is of a different order. This is singing in the English tradition, but with greater warmth and richness than we're used to from mixed choirs of this kind. Given Rogier's predilection for fully scored writing, that richness pays dividends, as does the relatively large cast of 18 singers. Interpretation and music are well matched in more ways than one. Neither are strikingly original, but both make a striking impression.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
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