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Hyperion Records

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Portrait of Elizabeth I.
The Deanery, Westminster Abbey / Copyright Dean and Chapter of Westminster
Track(s) taken from CDA67704
Recording details: June 2008
All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Jeremy Summerly
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: October 2008
Total duration: 3 minutes 20 seconds

'The beauties of this disc of 16th century choral music are many and various. The repertoire's selection and arrangement is inspired, the singing some of the best I've heard on CD … as a showcase for English choral singing at its most charismatic, this deserves to be widely heard' (Gramophone)

'The Choir of Westminster Abbey sings fresh, committed and emotionally compelling accounts. Many overpowering moments take place during Mundy's Vox Patris Caelestis … James O'Donnell shapes vocal lines with a keen sense of drama … the brilliance of the programming matches that of the singing' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Sheppard's sublime Libera nos unfolds like a hothouse flower amid other blooms from Tye, Tallis, Mundy and White' (The Observer)

'This latest addition to Hyperion's excellent Westminster Abbey series presents a fascinating snapshot of the musical upheavals created by Queen Mary's death and Elizabeth I's accession in 1558. Sheppard's Second Evening Service, composed in that year in a syllabic yet sonorously polyphonic style, marks the watershed between richly textured and highly elaborated Latin pieces, such as Mundy's Vox Patris caelestis, and the beautiful simplicity of Byrd's Teach me, O Lord. Recusant musical activity is also represented by Byrd's profoundly moving Ne irascaris' (The Daily Telegraph)

'The energy in the boys' voices is thrilling: they sear through the complex texture with evangelical zeal … this recording showcases the contrasts of style which made the 16th century such a fertile period of composition, and shows how the tradition of singing services at Westminster Abbey has continued unbroken for so many centuries' (Early Music Review)

'This is spectacularly fine singing, with James O'Donnell's obvious affection for the repertoire drawing from both boys and men some exquisite performances … the Westminster choir's most beautiful release to date' (International Record Review)

'In this brilliantly conceived programme … O'Donnell's superlative choir are peerless' (The Sunday Times)

Teach me, O Lord
composer
author of text
Psalm 119: 33-38

Introduction
The Psalm setting Teach me, O Lord most probably dates from Byrd’s Lincoln career. It was apparently not designed as an anthem, but as a truly liturgical piece, a festal Psalm to be sung after the Preces; it was popular enough to have found its way (usually as an anthem) into several sources. The piece might almost have been written to exemplify the Royal Injunction that required ‘a modest distinct song, so used in all parts of the common prayers in the church, that the same may be as plainly understood, as if it were read without singing’—though, as Peter Phillips has pointed out, this fundamentally misunderstands the effect of choral singing on text. Nevertheless there is a new intimacy, even compared to Sheppard’s Second Service, between text and music; this is partly due to the verse idiom, in which a soloist alternates with the full choir. A modern listener used to hearing Evensong cannot help noticing the similarity of the full sections, with their regular cadential formulae, to Anglican chant.

from notes by Robert Quinney 2008

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