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Sacred Vocal Music - Released February 12, 2016 | harmonia mundi

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For their first recording for harmonia mundi UK new signing ORA have chosen to focus on that towering figure of the English music scene, William Byrd. As Suzi Digby says in her introduction: "Starting the recording with an original Renaissance reflection, Byrd’s pairing of his own music to Da Monte’s setting of verses from Psalm 137 – one of the most remarkable exchanges in musical history - we centre on his peerless Mass for Five Voices. We then asked Roxanna Panufnik, Francis Pott, Alexander L’Estrange, Owain Park and Charlotte Bray to set their own reactions to the individual movements and we are delighted with the varied responses we got - showing the universality of Byrd’s sacred music and its relevance to today’s musicians. We imposed no restrictions, other than length, on our chosen composers in order to gain their truest reactions. The recording closes with possibly Byrd’s most famous work, his setting of the text of Ave Verum Corpus, and we asked the multi-talented musician Roderick Williams to write a setting on the same text. I am so grateful to him, and to all the composers of these wonderful new works, and hope you will be equally entertained and enlightened." (Susi Digby)
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Classical - Released September 23, 2016 | harmonia mundi

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It takes a bit of reading of small, brutally lightface, sans serif print to figure out what's going on here, but once you do, you're rewarded with a truly superb album of Renaissance and contemporary a cappella choral music that captures what Renaissance singers and hearers would have found significant in the music they heard. There are several interesting aspects to the program, any one of which might be enough to make Refuge from the Flames worth your time and money. It begins with two versions of the old chestnut Miserere, by Gregorio Allegri. But it's a chestnut no more: the score has been re-edited by Ben Byram-Wigfield, removing familiar features such as the shift of tonal center and the soaring ascent to high C. Wigfield argues in a note that these details are anachronistic, and likely the result of scribal error. Perhaps his conclusions can be debated, but it's striking how much the work changes in his version. It fits better with what comes next: the Miserere is a setting of Psalm 50, which inspired devotional poetry by the monk and insurgent activist Girolamo Savonarola, who antagonized both the church and secular authority and got himself first excommunicated and then torched for his trouble. The main intent of this album is to explore the significance of Savonarola's writings for composers. The program builds from a pair of simple, but awesomely powerful, anonymous sacred madrigals to larger pieces of French polyphony by Le Jeune and Verdelot, to Byrd -- who saw in Savonarola's sufferings an analogue to what Catholics were going through in Britain and delivered a profound setting of Savonarola's Infelix ego -- to contemporary composers from Britain and Scandinavia for whom the words of Savonarola continue to resonate. This program situates contemporary a cappella choral pieces in relation to Renaissance music in something beyond simple similarity of texture, and it brilliantly illuminates what a Renaissance motet might have meant in its own time. Throw in emotionally direct, but clean, singing from the 18-member group ORA and fine sound from St. Alban's church, and really the result is a must-have choral collection.
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Pop - Released May 26, 2017 | Learn Enterprize

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Classical - Released June 9, 2017 | harmonia mundi

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"The opening years of the twenty-first century can justifiably lay claim to being a new golden age for choral music. I wanted to embark on a series of recordings to reflect this and to showcase some of today’s best contemporary composers, placing their works in direct relief with masterpieces from previous ages. This recording, the second in our ‘Renaissance gems and their reflections’ series, looks at the music of Thomas Tallis, and we are delighted to have commissioned a number of talented composers to offer their personal reflections on his works. I hope that these new pieces, like Tallis’ originals, will find their way into the repertoire of other vocal groups, delighting audiences both now and in the future." Suzi Digby OBE © harmonia mundi

Classical - Released December 1, 2017 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released December 2, 2017 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released December 3, 2017 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released December 4, 2017 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released December 5, 2017 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released December 6, 2017 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released December 7, 2017 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released December 8, 2017 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released December 9, 2017 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released December 10, 2017 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released December 11, 2017 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released December 12, 2017 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released December 13, 2017 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released December 14, 2017 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released December 15, 2017 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released December 16, 2017 | harmonia mundi

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