Albums

1952 albums sorted by Date: from newest to oldest and filtered by Sacred Vocal Music
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released November 2, 2018 | Herald

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Sacred Vocal Music - Released October 26, 2018 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
For his first album as a soloist, the Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński chose to explore some of the rarest repertoires, to the point that several of the pieces presented here are world premieres. As a result, we are introduced to composers who are almost unknown today: Gaetano Schiassi (1698-1754), Domènec Terradellas (1711-1751) and Nicola Fago (1677-1745), alongside other composers who are famous today such as Hasse, Zelenka or Durante. Helped by the bass-baritone Yannis François, Orliński covers a large amount of time, from the end of the 17th century to the last third of the 18th century, though solely in the spiritual domain, with Masses, Dixit Dominus or sacred oratorios. That said, the vocal and instrumental writing borrows from baroque, with its vocalisations, its embellishments and its brightness. On top of this, the ensemble il pomo d'oro performs the work with great confidence. © SM/Qobuz
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released September 28, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
It's thanks to a complete stroke of luck that several of Pierre Bouteiller's rare works have been preserved for posterity, including this Messe à cinq voix. During a long journey from Paris to Strasbourg, Sébastien de Brossard – who was relying on the collegial hospitality of chapel masters at various churches along the route – found himself lodging with Bouteiller, who was working at Châlons-sur-Marne. The two musicians exchanged manuscripts, including thirteen motets and the Messe pour les défunts by Bouteiller, which have been found in Brossard's private library. In order to bring these works by Brossard and Bouteiller to life, and to perform them in the manner that they were sung in their day, during funerals, Paul Agnew, leader of the Arts Florissants has chosen to insert plain-chant sections to mark different points along the cortège and the funeral rites. In the reconstruction offered in this recording, Brossard's Miserere comes sandwiched between two organ pieces – the instrumental Kyrie by André Raison – which figures in the procession towards the tomb, and then the return to the church. The time of the Sun King is reconstructed with care, right down to the choice of acoustics (the Abbey of the Holy Trinity in Lessaye, Manche) and the selection of vocalists. © SM/Qobuz
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Cantatas (sacred) - Released September 21, 2018 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
For the fourth time on the Phi label, Philippe Herreweghe presents three cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach – Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 4, Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild, BWV 79, and Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, BWV 80. Written at different moments in the composer’s life and based to a large extent on the works of Martin Luther, these cantatas reflect a marked taste for dramaturgy, vivid word painting and an invariably astonishing use of instruments and voices. Philippe Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale Gent give us an accomplished version of these masterpieces, confirming, if further proof were needed, their stature as ardent champions of Bach. © Outhere Music
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Choirs (sacred) - Released September 21, 2018 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released September 10, 2018 | Channel Classics Records

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Sacred Vocal Music - Released September 10, 2018 | Channel Classics Records

Hi-Res Booklet
The rediscovery of Dietrich Buxtehude, whom Bach walked across Germany to hear, continues to yield fascinating new masterpieces. Membra Jesu nostri (The Body Parts of Jesus), known only to a handful of specialists a decade ago, has attracted no fewer than three strong recordings from major early music ensembles: the Sixteen under Harry Christophers performs its framing ensemble sections with a small choir, while Konrad Jünghänel's Cantus Cölln and the present performance, by the Netherlands Bach Society under Jos van Veldhoven, simply join the four soloists together to form the chorus. Normally that's a questionable decision, but in this case it seems to work: this was experimental music, written for a small group of initiates and set down in a very odd tablature notation, a specimen of which is reproduced in the booklet for this disc. The Latin texts of these seven thematically linked cantatas, drawn from a medieval mystical poem, are devotions addressed to body parts of the crucified Christ: feet, knees, hands, side, breast, heart, and face. These texts are sung by soloists, with a different soloist taking each verse in music that changes but remains harmonically consistent with the other verses. Buxtehude frames each text with a choral setting of a line from the Bible that refers to the same body part. He alters the mode of expression in these little framing choruses; some are direct and passionate, others coolly contrapuntal. And he finds other ways of varying what could be a tedious sequence of seven similar cantatas; the work reaches a climax in the sixth cantata, on the theme of the heart, where the alto, tenor, violins, and cellos drop out and throw the remaining forces -- soprano, bass, and a group of gambas -- into sharp relief. This extraordinary cantata suggests the confluence of sacred and secular love found in both the Latin poem and in the Song of Songs text Buxtehude chooses from the Bible to frame it, and the suggestion is made without the recourse to Italian operatic language found in Bach. The music as a whole is intimate, personal, and intensely devotional; it may well appeal strongly to those whose religious impulses are stimulated by close consideration of individual biblical passages. There is a dramatic quality that lurks in Buxtehude's vocal music, and the soloists here choose to bring it out even as they keep to a generally quiet level -- in this performance the music is a quietly impassioned, private prayer. The other available performances are a bit warmer. Preferences among the three may be individual, but the acoustics of this recording bring out its subtleties and its general hushed, intense mood. This disc is strongly recommended for anyone who loves the passionate yet concrete quality of Bach's smaller sacred pieces.
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released September 10, 2018 | Channel Classics Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
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Sacred Oratorios - Released August 31, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
There is no shortage of parallels to be drawn between Caldara and Vivaldi: both Venetians, both boasting an impressive body of work running to several hundred pieces of all genres, both died in Vienna (in the same street and in the same penury!), although Caldara had written more operas and oratorios than the Red Priest. And here is one of these very 32 known oratorios, Maddalena ai piedi di Christo written in Venice around 1698; it is "oratorio volgare", that is, recited in Italian, rather than Latin. Originally written as an accompaniment to spiritual exercises, the oratorio came to replace profane operas when the theatres were closed, especially from November to Lent. It took on the guise of opera, and used many of its techniques: naves and altars were (re)decorated and mechanisms and costumes were employed. In reality, it was nothing but an opera with a religious theme... The words and the plot of Maddalena ai piedi di Christo are perfectly suited to these months of penitence. It is a drama of the moral breakdown that tortures the sinner who has to choose between worldly and heavenly love, between living a life of luxury and truly promising herself to Christ. The Le Banquet Céleste ensemble, led by Damien Guillon (who also sings the alto part of Divine Love), takes to this rare piece with fervour. © SM/Qobuz
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Cantatas (sacred) - Released June 22, 2018 | Ricercar

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Most of the works presented here by the Clematis Ensemble and countertenor Paulin Bündgen come from the rich Düben collection held by the Uppsala University. In the 17th century, Gustaf Düben was kapellmeister at the Swedish court; he had mostly gathered manuscript scores of compositions from numerous German, French, Italian and Baltic authors. It is one of the largest sources of Lutherian repertoire of the 17th century, particularly as it contains numerous in unicum scores. Among the composers featured in this piece, some were Schütz’ successors or disciples, but it’s worth mentioning that the German composers of that time – particularly Schein, Franz Tunder (who was Buxtehude’s master) and Johann Fischer – were considerably influenced by Italian baroque. You’ll notice the presence of two Bachs on this album: Johann Michael (1648-1694) and Johann Christoph (1642-1703), two second-degree cousins of Johann Sebastian. Johann Christoph Bach’s Lamento − whom his cousin described as a “deep composer” – is without a doubt one of the best-known compositions of the sacred German repertoire of the time. Like in the entire repertoire, the role of strings remains essential. This sacred piece relies on the text’s numerous descriptive effects, like a “painting in musical form”: the sharpest terms (crying, sighing, sinking…) are underlined by similar vocal and instrumental effects. This Lamento is without a doubt the perfect example of the aria à da capo form that Johann Sebastian Bach so frequently used in his sacred works. This vocal music programme is accompanied by a few instrumental pieces that can be assimilated to church music. © SM/Qobuz
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released June 8, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik
In 1668, Dietrich Buxtehude, then thirty one years old, took up the very sought-after tenure of organist at the Marienkirche in Lübeck, then a Hanseatic metropolis of considerable relevance; the organist had at that time one of the most desirable social statuses. He soon caused a sensation with the church concerts he held outside of religious services and that happened every year, in the early evening, on the five Sundays preceding Christmas. During these “Abendmusiken” (vespertine music), as they were called, were sometimes performed great works falling withing the oratorio genre, but more often was performed a mix of instrumental pieces, church tunes, psalm arrangements and cantata-like works. From the 1700s, these series of concerts had become a major cultural event of the city. Released from the daily handling of religious music handled by the Marienkirche’s Cantor—as was often the case at the time in North Germany—, Buxtehude only composed works on his own initiative, which allowed him to give them a quality level noticeably higher than that of the Cantor, for example, forced to compose non-stop, from one Sunday to another. The cantatas recorded here demonstrate the high artistic ambitions of these vocal works: they often digress from stylistic and generic conventions of their time and answer the tasks imposed by the texts with bold musical solutions, daring and absolutely splendid. The sonatas from Buxtehude completing the vocal program of this disc are also characterized by their markedly experimental character. Olivier Fortin’s Masques Ensemble—recorder, strings, positive organ—and Lionel Meunier’s Vox Luminis join forces to offer us these gems from the turn of the North German 18th century, such gems that the young Bach didn’t hesitate, in 1705, to travel on foot from Arnstadt—a 100-league trip—to come listen to Buxtehude, his organ play and probably his famous Abendmusiken. © SM/Qobuz
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Cantatas (sacred) - Released May 25, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Bach's "Dialogue Cantatas" generally portrayed Jesus in dialogue with the human soul, first tormented and then at peace. The three cantatas selected here by Berlin's Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, which has, over the years since 1982 (with over a million records sold!) brought together musicians from the city's different orchestras – first those under Soviet rule and then all orchestras following the fall of the Wall – are a part of this genre; all date from the great Leipzig period, specifically the third cycle written by Bach for Leipzig in 1726. It will come as no surprise, hearing these cantatas, that the essence of the first arias is desperate, heart-rending: and as they go on, they move towards relief and joy. It is in these first moments that we see Bach at his most intense, most pained, most chromatic, terribly modern as well as at his most romantic, profoundly lyrical and yet rigorous in the musical discourse. The most superbly original piece is surely the Cantata BWV 49, which begins with a Sinfonia with obbligato organ – in which the listener will recognise the final movement of the Harpsichord Concerto in E Major, when Bach recycled it a dozen years later – and continues with an aria with cello and oboe, both soloists immersed in the soprano's joyous voice; and we finish on a magnificent chorale with an aria – the aria being for the bass of the solo organ, while the soprano part sings the chorale's theme from on high: a staggering display of modernity. © SM/Qobuz
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Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released May 25, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice
In the 17th century, Roman churches were competing to put on the greatest show to celebrate their patron saints. On these occasions, extraordinary services were performed, where many different artists would be brought together, singers and instrumentalists alike, alongside ordinary musicians, for sumptuous pieces performed by several vocal and instrumental choirs. One contemporary description gives an idea of the scale: ten choirs and ensembles played together, two on fixed stages, and eight others distributed symmetrically right along the nave, on platforms built for the occasion. Every additional stage was provided with a positive organ, while many other instruments added to the sonic splendour. So that all the musicians could play well together in spite of the distance, "capi di coro” or time-keeping drummers, would play in unison. Orazio Benevolo (1605-1672) was one of the most remarkable architects of these extravagant, multi-choral monuments. Benevolo was a choirboy at the Church of St. Louis of the French in Rome before he entered the upper echelons by taking the job of Chapel Master in 1638. The composer has left behind him an abundant set of works, containing no fewer than 34 motets for a range of players, including Regna terrae, written for twelve soprano parts distributed across six vocal choirs, each with its own basso continuo. We are also indebted to him for twelve versions of the Magnificat, for between eight and 24 voices, including one for 16 voices, in quadruple choir, which appears here. Hervé Niquet and his Concert Spirituel have made use of the ample acoustics in the Notre-Dame-du-Liban church in Paris, perfectly structured to hold several choirs distributed across the building, to create the sensations of immersion and spatial plenitude that the composer aimed for. © SM/Qobuz
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released May 18, 2018 | DUX

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
One might well say: this is just yet another recording of Rachmaninov's Vespers. And while, objectively, that's what this is, it’s also a reading which differs markedly from the norm – the norm in question being to drown the discourse in an intense reverberation, natural or artificial, and to record it at a distance, to create a "churchy" feel. None of that here: the choir – exemplary, superb – of the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic in Poland, an institution based in Białystok, is recorded here quite close up, almost intimately, with no added reverb and in a comfortable acoustic location: the European Art Centre in Białystok. The result is that the listener hears every word and almost every counter-punctual line – and Rachmaninov had a field day with this, adding up to eleven real voices into the most harmonically intense passages. We bet that for many, this will be a real discovery, of an immense masterpiece of Slavic religious music. We also note that the soloists are of great quality and that the basso profundos demanded of the choir at points are real basso profundos, not unfortunate bass baritones in danger of asphyxiation. Hats off. © SM/Qobuz
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released May 11, 2018 | Signum Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice
Fascinated by the Marian cult, whose contradictions he loves to highlight, Paul McCreesh offers here a purely choral programme, leaving behind the charms of orchestral instrumentation. Both virgin and mother, a symbol of both chastity and fertility, the figure of Mary also holds a strong erotic potential, which has not escaped Paul McCreesh, who designed this album by choosing English composers from the Renaissance to the present day, without any real disparity in style becoming apparent, proving the strength and continuity of British choral music. The great English movement of the rediscovery of polyphony in the 20th and 21st centuries doesn't stop at exploring the music of the Renaissance, but also rediscovering, and employing in new compositions, the beautiful medieval words set to music, which have been passed unamended down the centuries. Returning to the sources of Western music, Paul McCreesh asks whether the sudden popularity of religious music comes from a subliminal desire to recreate a world in which almost everyone believed in God. Fighting against a certain ethereal and angelic approach to religious choral music, McCreesh compares high polyphony to the architecture of a vast cathedral, trying to bring out its visceral side, on certain pieces at least. Listeners will note that this album contains the world's first recording of a new work commissioned by Paul McCreesh and the Gabriel Consort, written by the young British composer Matthew Martin. A Rose Magnificat (which also gives the whole album its name) was written for double choir and contains interjections from a medieval text. The composer wrote the piece in a "Stravinskian" manner, as he put it, while searching out Eastern and Byzantine flavours. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Sacred Oratorios - Released April 27, 2018 | deutsche harmonia mundi

Booklet
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released April 20, 2018 | deutsche harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
If we are to believe the archives of the Inquisition – and they knew a thing or two about partying – music played too big a role in a number of convents in the early Renaissance. Of course, plain-chant had always been a part of the liturgy, but it seems that the nuns were overstepping the mark and getting into playing all manner of contemporary music. This should hardly come as a surprise, as well-bred young women enjoyed a broad culture on the one hand, and their religious duties didn't take up so much time, leaving them with a lot of time to dedicate to less-holy activities on the other. These concerts were given in convent schools; but they were big draws. There was a limit to their musical possibilities: no male voices, of course, so the nuns had no choice but to give the tenor and bass parts to deeper instruments, which they would play themselves, such as bassoons or trombones. This album contains the movements that make up the full mass, mostly from the works of Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611). But this is not an attempt to reproduce a particular mass: the documentation in those days wasn't precise enough to allow that. Rather, it is an "imaginary mass" from Renaissance Spain, with responses and plainsong interspersed among richly polyphonic movements. Of course, we only hear women's voices, as well as some purely-instrumental pieces. The album closes with Adorámoste Señor by Francisco de la Torre (1483-1507), which is almost a century older than the pieces by Victoria de la Torre from whom the ensemble Capella de la Torre took its name. © SM/Qobuz
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Cantatas (sacred) - Released April 20, 2018 | Audax

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Continuing their research into the vast hinterland of German cantatas from the early baroque period, Johannes Pramsohler and the musicians of his excellent Diderot Ensemble here dive into the austere and strange music of Biber, but also the less-well-known works of Johann Christoph Bach, great uncle of Johann Sebastian and musicians like Pachelbel, Bruhns and Eberlin. Johannes Pramsohler brings a particular fire and mystical sensuality to this new album (heavenly and earthly delights never being so far apart), and intense celestial flights to his violin playing. A range of international singers have left behind opera and dived with staggering ease into a completely different repertoire. The architects of this success, the supply and airy voice of the Canadian mezzo Andrea Hill, the perfectly gloomy timbre of Spanish tenor Jorge Navarro Colorado and the dark colours of the Argentine bass Nahuel di Pierro, sound the depths of this music driven by a great piety. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released March 30, 2018 | Ligia

Hi-Res Booklet