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Monteverdi - The Sacred Music 4
“The disc opens with a splendid Laetatus sum for six solo singers, choir and instruments. …the tenor in Salve, o Regina delivers some wonderfully impassioned decoration, and the sopranos in the final Laudate Dominum are flashingly bright throughout and end on a perfect unison. Nor should we forget the instrumentalists: the violinists in Sanctorum meritis dance their way through the music in a way that transfigures the bare notes on the page.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2005 *****
“The fourth volume of Robert King's exploration of Monteverdi's sacred music continues to mix pieces from different sources: the composer's authorised collection Selva morale e spirituale, the posthumous Venetian collection Messa aquattro voci e salmi, and various Italian anthologies.
The beginning of Laetatus sum I instantly establishes the impeccable technical credentials of these stunning performances. The organ and chitarrone continuo is steady and sure-footed, joined a few bars later by a flamboyant violin duel stunningly dispatched by Simon Jones and Andrea Morris, and then crowned with a glorious duet by Carolyn Sampson and Rebecca Outram. The Choir of The King's Consort reinforce tutti passages with some splendid contributions and meet the florid, extrovert eightpart writing in Dixit Dominus II with colourful commitment. In the motet Adoramus te, Christe – not to be confused with the comparably beautiful but better known Christe adoramus, te – the choir shows its skill at gentler music, although I wonder if the use of solo voices might have been equally attractive and closer to what Monteverdi would have expected.
Charles Daniels and James Gilchrist beautifully judge several intimate tenor solos; Gilchrist's glorious and heartfelt singing in Salveregina I features some wonderful echo contributions from Daniels. Their tender communication of the text and sweet high registers consolidate their status as the finest English tenors of their type. Robert King never rushes the music but cannily treads the fine line between dizzying excitement and authoritative splendour. Even if you already admire seminal recordings of Monteverdi sacred music by the likes of Andrew Parrott, Konrad Junghänel and Rinaldo Alessandrini, there are plenty of less familiar gems included that make this series essential.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
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Masterpieces of Renaissance Polyphony
Renaissance choral music has for many years been marketed as stress-busting music to calm down the weary modern-day man or woman in a world full of uncertainty and danger. Ironically, this music was born in a period of great stress and indeed danger as the Catholic Church and emergent Protestant faith wrestled for authority over nations.
The Catholic Church rose to the challenge with some truly spectacular music, including Allegri’s famous Miserere included on this CD. Written for use exclusively by the papal choir, this music owes its popularity to the young Mozart, who having heard it once, copied the work from memory, bringing it to the outside world.
Radical thought, as so often in history, was a punishable offence in the 16th century. Those who called for church reform were often dealt with brutally, paying with their lives for exposing the machinations and wrongdoings of Popes, bishops, priests and clerics.
It was in such a climate that Palestrina, Monteverdi, Victoria and others produced their greatest religious music. This CD makes a soundtrack to the great theatre that was Roman worship in the 16th and 17th centuries, while also providing nearly 50 minutes of uplifting and spiritual music.
Booklet note, sung texts and translations.
Recording made in 1982.
“The Choir of Westminster Cathedral sounds much more brilliant than the college choirs which usually record such music. The boys (like those of St John’s, Cambridge) have a distinctive cutting edge and the vowel sounds
are less polite than those of the universities – which imparts a greater emotional thrust … this is a thrilling record, given resonance by being made in Westminster Cathedral itself, yet quite clear in sound.” Gramophone Magazine, April 1983
“This anthology of choral works represents some of the highlights of the Catholic response to the more functional music favoured by Luther, with due eminence paid to Palestrina, father of renaissance polyphony. His "Peccantem me quotidie" has the sombre penitential tone appropriate for Lent, and...shows that Catholics could be just as austere as Protestants.” The Independent, 11th March 2011 *****
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Vexilla Regis prodeunt
Music for Holy Week & Easter
“This superb group, singing with a reverential, controlled ecstasy, conveys a profound understanding of the texts. It is an overwhelming and deeply moving experience.” Choir & Organ
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