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Track(s) taken from CDA67449

O magnum mysterium

composer
1994
author of text
Responsories at Matins, Christmas Day

Polyphony, Stephen Layton (conductor)
Recording details: August 2003
Temple Church, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: October 2004
Total duration: 6 minutes 40 seconds

Cover artwork: Why Seek Ye the Living Among the Dead? (1905) by Howard Pyle (1853-1911)
American Illustrators Gallery, NYC / Bridgeman Art Library, London
 
1
O magnum mysterium  [6'40]

Other recordings available for download

St John's College Choir Cambridge, David Hill (conductor)
Armonico Consort, Christopher Monks (conductor)
The Concordia Choir, René Clausen (conductor)
The Rodolfus Choir, Ralph Allwood (conductor)
Armonico Consort, Christopher Monks (conductor)

Reviews

'Exquisitely sung by Polyphony with strong support from the Britten Sinfonia under Stephen Layton' (The Observer)

'The music has freshness and an affecting emotional pull to it that explains its popularity with singers and audiences across the pond. Stephen Layton's Polyphony, whose recent recordings of Pärt, Tavener and others have been revelations of choral singing, brings a comparable firmness, tonal opulence and refinement to this new repertoire, which will undoubtedly gain new admirers as a result' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Conventional choral wisdom suggests that the American Morten Lauridsen is a one-work wonder and certainly O magnum mysterium is wonderful, with vocal lines that arch out like fan vaulting. With this new recording Stephen Layton and Hyperion are clearly out to prove that Lauridsen's gifts are not just for Christmas but for all seasons too … now the jury is back: the choir and Layton have acquitted Morten Lauridsen. Here's a three-, perhaps four-work wonder!' (International Record Review)

'Layton and company have here produced the finest I've heard among several excellent collections of Lauridsen's work. None are quite as exquisitely nuanced or sung with such glowing vocal sheen as this. Clear and shimmering sound, plus Hyperion's usual complete and user-friendly booklet, make it all the more attractive. No committed choral fan or singer will ever regret letting Lauridsen into his life' (American Record Guide)

'Stephen Layton's feel for the inner line and structure melts the heart, as does the impeccable, unforced singing of Polyphony. Their music-making remains in heavenly realms throughout the virtuoso Madrigali: pure choral gold' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Every one of the works on this mesmerising Hyperion release is deliciously lyrical and harmonically sumptuous, but spiced with delicate dissonances that are Lauridsen's signature … every performance here is delivered with liquid perfection' (The Scotsman)

'It's not often I have to brush away the tears when I'm reviewing a recording, but I will happily confess that on this occasion Lauridsen got me again and again. I can't give this disc a higher recommendation than that. Run out and buy it as soon as you can' (Fanfare, USA)

'Above all, these performances by Stephen Layton's Polyphony are breathtakingly beautiful, powerfully expressive without trace of forced sentimentality. Hyperion's Disc of the Month for March should become one of the year's classical hits' (Music Week)

'A flawless, perfectly balanced performance from the British choral group Polyphony, directed by the gifted Stephen Layton, and ably assisted by the Britten Sinfonia. If you love choral music, if you appreciate compositions that lift you from the mundane, you should not miss Lux aeterna' (St Louis-Post Dispatch)

'This Hyperion release is superb and the disc is a must. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have' (Classical Music Web)

'This is compelling and challenging music that deserves wider performance. The world-class ensemble Polyphony has made many first-rate recordings, and this is another—and it will be an immediate acquisition for this composer's growing legions of fans … if you love choral music, Lauridsen's work is required listening' (ClassicsToday.com)

'The sound is very clean, very focused and detailed, and has remarkable sound-stage depth … the bottom line is, if you aren't familiar with Lux aeterna, your life is the poorer for it. You do need a recording of it' (Stereophile)
O magnum mysterium is pervaded by the same tenderness and refinement found in Lux aeterna; indeed, this refulgent work was written in 1994, just before Lauridsen began to contemplate the composition of the larger score. The composer has disclosed that this motet is an ‘affirmation of God’s grace to the meek … a quiet song of profound inner joy’. With a text from Christmas Matins that has been set by such disparate composers as Victoria and Poulenc, Lauridsen’s O magnum mysterium expresses mystical awe at the mystery of the Incarnation as well as the very human tenderness of the Virgin Mary for her newborn child.

from notes by Byron Adams © 2005

O magnum mysterium est envahi de la même tendresse et du même raffinement que Lux aeterna – ce resplendissant motet fut d’ailleurs écrit en 1994, juste avant que Lauridsen n’envisage la composition du vaste Lux aeterna. Le compositeur a révélé que O magnum mysterium est une «affirmation de la grâce de Dieu envers les doux … un paisible chant d’une profonde joie intime». Reposant sur un texte des matines de Noël déjà mis en musique par des compositeurs aussi divers que Victoria et Poulenc, O magnum mysterium de Lauridsen dit la crainte mystique face au mystère de l’Incarnation, mais aussi la tendresse toute humaine de la Vierge Marie pour son enfant nouveau-né.

extrait des notes rédigées par Byron Adams © 2005
Français: Hypérion

In O magnum mysterium herrscht dieselbe Zartheit und Finesse wie in Lux aeterna vor; und tatsächlich entstand dieses strahlende Stück 1994, kurz bevor Lauridsen es in Erwägung zog, ein größeres Werk zu komponieren. Der Komponist hat darauf hingewiesen, dass diese Motette eine „Bestätigung der Gnade Gottes gegenüber den Sanftmütigen ist … ein ruhiges Lied von tiefgehendem innerlichen Glück“. Der Text stammt aus der Weihnachtsmatutin und ist von den verschiedensten Komponisten, darunter Victoria und Poulenc, vertont worden; Lauridsens O magnum mysterium drückt eine mystische Ehrfurcht vor dem Wunder der Inkarnation und auch der sehr menschlichen Zärtlichkeit der Jungfrau Maria für ihr neugeborenes Kind aus.

aus dem Begleittext von Byron Adams © 2005
Deutsch: Viola Scheffel

Other albums featuring this work

A Choral Christmas
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A Christmas Present from Polyphony
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Christmas at St John's Cambridge
CDA67576
Whitacre, Lauridsen & Chilcott: Choral Music
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Naked Byrd
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On Christmas night
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Lauridsen: Lux aeterna
This album is not yet available for downloadSACDA67449Super-Audio CD — Deleted
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