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Hyperion Records

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Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris (1986) by Charlotte Johnson Wahl (b1942)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67808
Recording details: July 2009
Gloucester Cathedral, United Kingdom
Produced by Adrian Peacock
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: June 2010
Total duration: 25 minutes 12 seconds

'The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, sing superbly under the expert direction of Stephen Layton; wonderful quiet, melting legato phrases and passionate forte sections. The composer himself, playing the Gloucester Cathedral organ, provides impeccable accompaniments and stunning improvisations. I can confidently say that this recording is one of the finest CDs of sacred choral and organ music you’ll ever hear. I’m not ashamed to say I had tears in my eyes; listeners who are churchgoers and nonbelievers alike will find this disc a profoundly moving experience' (Gramophone)

Messe pour Notre-Dame
February 2002; SATB and organ (optionally 2 organs); commissioned by Neil Shepherd and the Choir of Keynsham Parish Church, Bristol; first performed at Notre-Dame de Paris, 28 July 2002
author of text
Ordinary of the Mass

Kyrie  [5'11] GreekEnglish
Gloria  [7'10] LatinEnglish

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Messe pour Notre-Dame is a fusion of Cochereau transcription and Briggs’ own compositional voice. ‘About 15% is based on some wonderful Cochereau improvisations for the Feast of the Assumption in 1962’, he says. ‘I transcribed them from an unedited reel-to-reel recording made in Notre-Dame that day by Fred Tulan, a well-known American organist and great friend of Pierre. You can hear—in the ‘Domine Deus’ section of the Gloria and introductions to the Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei—Cochereau’s incredible invention and ravishing harmonies. I’ve tried to make the link into my own music as imperceptible as possible, but it is for others to say if it’s successful or not!’.

Messe pour Notre-Dame was indeed conceived specifically for the great Parisian cathedral and its mighty 1868 Cavaillé-Coll organ. The choir it was written for was an English one, however—commissioned by Neil Shepherd and the choir of Keynsham Parish Church, near Bristol, they performed it with Briggs in Notre-Dame on 28 July 2002. What a magnificent gift to that most endangered musical species of the early twenty-first century, the English Parish Church Choir.

from notes by Meurig Bowen © 2010

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