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Choral Music (Choirs) - Released March 28, 2011 | Delphian

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Classical - Released March 10, 2014 | Bene Arte

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Recordings of chant tend to fall into two groups: those concerned with the beauty of the singing and the singers themselves, and those that attempt to place the chant into something like its liturgical context. This recording by Britain's hot Tenebrae Consort falls somewhere in between. The program consists mostly of a set of chants for the Compline service for Holy Week, drawn from the unusual Sarum chant repertory used in England until the time of the Reformation. For several of the texts, polyphony, in the form of the great Lamentations of Thomas Tallis and a respond by John Sheppard, is added. The general idea of adding polyphony to a sequence of chants fits what would have been done at the time, even if it was Sheppard, rather than Tallis, whose music was associated with the Sarum Office. Musically it all works beautifully. The Tenebrae Consort is pared down to five singers here (four for the chants themselves), and the entire event has an intimate quality, centered on the texts (all reproduced and translated into English in the booklet). And the sound environment of London's small All Hallows Church, Gospel Oak, is strikingly well suited to the aims of the project. Strikingly beautiful, even if it is a little hard to tell what the overarching principle of the program is. © TiVo
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Classical - Released August 26, 2016 | Delphian

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Carlo Gesualdo's five-voice motets, published in 1603 under the title Sacrae Cantiones, have suffered in recording catalogs in comparison with his tortured madrigals and exquisitely gloomy Tenebrae responsories. This is a shame, for revealed here are serious sacred compositions that make use of many madrigalian devices, but are not simply madrigals with sacred texts. They come out especially madrigalian in this one-voice-per-part recording by the young Marian Consort: not always an ideal solution, but easy enough to imagine for Gesualdo, writing in splendid isolation in his castle after the violent events of his life, with a small troupe of virtuoso musicians on the payroll. Gesualdo uses his chromatic and extreme madrigal language as just one possibility among several; typically chromaticism will illustrate a moment of suffering, but then the polyphony will retreat to the block proto-chords of the later 16th century's motet composers or even to smooth Palestrina-like polyphony, as the text demands. The result is an exceptionally sensitive handling of text, serious but never overwrought. Sample a piece like Hei mihi, Domine for the overall effect. A recommended way into some little-known late Renaissance masterworks. © TiVo
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Classical - Released August 28, 2020 | Naxos

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Michel Pignolet de Montéclair (1667–1737), a noted basse violon player in Paris, composed a small but exquisite body of innovative works in a variety of forms, including an opera-ballet. He was also an important figure in the composition of music for flute at a time when innovations in design brought it to prominence as a solo instrument. This album traces his earliest published pieces through to his mature works of the 1730s. They show how Montéclair’s use of vocalised writing, and his ornate and complex obbligati in the cantatas proved to be pivotal in the development of the transverse flute. © Naxos
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Classical - Released April 3, 2012 | Fidelio Musique

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Classical - Released January 10, 2020 | Naxos

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William Mathias wrote some of the most imaginative, communicative and joyful choral music of the mid-to late 20th century. These qualities are perhaps most clearly represented in his substantial catalogue of works for choir and, in particular, his settings of sacred texts, notably the invigorating A Babe is Born and the hauntingly beautiful Ave verum corpus, one of his last compositions. This selection also includes the both serious and entertaining sequence of Riddles and the rapt, ecstatic A May Magnificat. © Naxos
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Classical - Released January 1, 1998 | Delos

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Chamber Music - Released August 26, 2014 | Delphian

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The tradition of Renaissance viol consort music can be difficult for the casual listener to get a handle on; the sound of the viols, wheezy and glassy when not played well, tires in large quantities, and the pieces mostly have the same texture and slow tempo. This release by Britain's Rose Consort of Viols is expressly dedicated to exploring the sound of Venetian instruments, in modern replicas, and indeed the rounded sound of these viols, all inspired by the single surviving example of a viol from Venice in the 16th century, may well attract fans of this music. But the album may also be a strong choice for those who have struggled with viol consort music in the past. Much of what's most familiar in the viol repertory came from England, but the music was pan-European, and that's one key to understanding it. Viol music was an intellectual tradition, inward rather than outward looking, and it is at its most characteristic when a composer is taking a tune that originated in one country and reworking it in another. Many of the works here -- "La my la sol," "Ich stund an einem Morgen," "In nomine," and "Doulce memoire" -- were treated over and over again by different composers as a display of technique. The seemingly small range of the music is in fact its essence: composers had to show what they could do within that small range, and this album lets the listener get an idea of how enthusiasts of the 16th century heard viol music. © TiVo
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Chamber Music - Released August 17, 2018 | haenssler CLASSIC

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Yes, yes, Franck's Sonata was originally for violin and piano, but when Máté Szücs – the first solo viola of the Berlin Philharmonic – takes it on, we completely forget the transposition (one octave downward, but staying in the original A major key); taken aback, we wonder if the composer wrote the piece for this instrument as well as for the violin. For sure, the work's character changes a bit. Less luminous, more inward-looking, more mysterious too: it's a pretty fascinating new light on the piece. The rest of the album is given over to Schumann: the Sonata in A Minor, also written for violin and played here on the viola, and a strong hand of Lieder by Schumann, of which Szücs and Belgian-Japanese pianist Michèle Yuki Gurdal give a poignant reading, in which the absence of words highlights (at least for those who speak German!) the pieces' intrinsic melodic qualities. Here again, the listener will imagine themselves to be confronted with never-before-recorded works by Schumann… but in fact the cycle Dichterliebe is a worldwide classic! © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released October 14, 2003 | CDM

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Choral Music (Choirs) - Released January 10, 2011 | Delphian

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Choral Music (Choirs) - Released September 30, 2013 | Delphian

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Classical - Released December 1, 2012 | CDM

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Classical - Released July 12, 2014 | Signum Records

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The King's Singers are at their a cappella best when they offer light, colorful programs that let them showcase the virtuosity and imagination of their arrangements. This delightful collection of "postcards" from countries around the world would be hard to top on these counts. The program consists of arrangements of traditional and popular songs from a variety of European cultures plus some beyond: Canadian, Korean, Maori, Brazilian, Mexican, Chinese, South African, and African-American. Each arrangement treats the text with insight, and many of them lightly suggest musical styles of the culture from which the song comes, with delightful effect (try the South African piece, "Egoli," track 19, for an example). The personnel of the group has changed over the years, but the present sextet of countertenors David Hurley and Timothy Wayne-Wright, tenor Paul Phoenix, baritones Christopher Bruerton and Christopher Gabbitas, and bass Jonathan Howard yield to none in their ensemble and ability to carry off simple emotional appeal and humor. Some of the arrangements here are new, but others were made in conjunction with visits by the group to various world capitals; they thus come pre-tested with local audiences. In all, this an unusually satisfying and enjoyable release even by the high standards of these perennial favorites. © James Manheim /TiVo
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Choral Music (Choirs) - Released November 24, 2014 | Delphian

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The Choir of Merton College, Oxford, has released a series of thematic albums that depart in several ways from the common run of British collegiate choral products. The first is the willingness of the choir to depart from a pristine sound and to build tension through the judicious application of what Astor Piazzolla once called mud. Committed fans of John Tavener may well find the choir's recording of Two Hymns to the Mother of God (tracks 12 and 13) worth the price of admission in itself. The second novelty is the application of the Christmas programming concept of combining contemporary and Renaissance material to other Christian themes. The Choir of Merton College is of course not the first group to do this, but the idea has been worked out unusually well here: there are newly commissioned pieces about Mary, all of them from female composers and displaying a fascinating variety of perspectives, and the choir's pair of conductors are seemingly given the chance to follow their own leads. The focus is naturally on the newer music, but the version of Byrd's Salve Regina led by veteran conductor Peter Phillips seems to stand at the center of the whole program. The emotional involvement of the young singers in the music provides an X factor in the album's favor, as does the deep familiarity of the performers and the engineers of the British audiophile label Delphian with the sound environment of the group's home base, Merton College Chapel. An unusually satisfying British choral release. © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 15, 2001 | CDM

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released July 25, 2011 | Delphian

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Classical - Released February 25, 2014 | Naxos

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Classical - Released August 3, 2018 | Phaia Music

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Choral Music (Choirs) - Released January 13, 2014 | Delphian

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The music of the English generations before Byrd is becoming more common on recordings as performing groups have become more familiar with what it takes to effectively present it. The name of John Sheppard, a contemporary of Tallis, was known only to specialists a quarter century ago, but performances like this one by the Choir of St. Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh, are bringing Sheppard to a wider audience. Like Thomas Tallis, Sheppard wrote music in both the lush Catholic and the sparer Protestant styles, but much of the latter has been lost. These motets and the central Missa Cantante features rich polyphony interspersed with episodes of reduced texture. They demand singers of absolute clarity, or else the lines of music merge into sonic mush. Likewise, the music proceeds not in the orderly polyphonic entrances of the 16th century but in a sort of interweaving of melodic shapes, and the performance has to be a sensitive one in spite of the vast spaces the music fills. This Scottish performance fills the bill in all respects, but perhaps the real star of the show is producer Paul Baxter, working in the choir's sizable home, who delivers an exemplary sonic treatment of the English cathedral style with a good-sized group. Highly recommended. © TiVo