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Hyperion Records

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Adoration of the Shepherds (detail) by Angelo Bronzino (1503-1572)
Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, Budapest / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67522
Recording details: March 2005
Westminster Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: October 2006
Total duration: 9 minutes 53 seconds

'With the glorious acoustical space of Westminster Cathedral, this disc has inbuilt atmosphere, enhanced by organ improvisations and by the choir's fluent singing of plainchant Latin antiphons and psalms as they might be heard at Christmas Eve Vespers … the service has as its spiritual climax the five-part Magnificat by Tallis, sung with invigorating thrust and guts that contrast favourably with more guarded approaches to the Renaissance masters' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Christmas comes with a combination of simplicity and stunning excitement in this recording' (American Record Guide)

'The real value of this disc is the palpable sense of atmosphere in the listening. The service unfolds in the acoustic space of the great Byzantine structure, almost making the listener present … this disc is quite unique, a hugely successful evocation of Catholic cathedral worship at its best' (Fanfare, USA)

'Westminster Cathedral Choir and Martin Baker give us a rich evocation of the complete service of Vespers at the Cathedral as it is currently sung. If you close your eyes you can almost smell the incense' (MusicWeb International)

'This issue presents a purified version of the Office of Vespers as it might be heard on Christmas Eve in Westminster Cathedral, a monument steeped in art, music and spirituality. The precious thread which runs throughout the whole liturgy on this disc is the 'chant' giving the office a rhythm rich in natural beauty as well as a clarity of text and expressive language. All this uplifting experience is complimented by motets and canticles by Tallis, Victoria and Schutz with Langlais' mighty 'Fête' for organ concluding this riveting service. The Cathedral Choir under Martin Baker sing their hearts out, and while intonation and ensemble are impeccable, it is the authentic love of this music that they so successfully bequeath to the listener' (Classical.net)

Magnificat a 5
composer
Christ Church Oxford MSS979-983; missing fifth part reconstructed by Jon Dixon; plainsong added
author of text
Luke 1: 46-55

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The five-part setting of the Magnificat by Thomas Tallis (c1505– 1585) is a fine example of this composer’s style from the middle years of the sixteenth century. Tallis was an English composer of great ability and adaptability. He served four successive monarchs throughout the troubled Reformation period in England and produced music which suited the conditions of the time: large-scale Latin votive antiphons for Henry VIII, short miniatures in English for Edward VI, more extensive, thicker-textured Latin motets for Mary and Latin devotional motets for Elizabeth. This setting of the Magnificat is difficult to date. Its Latin text suggests that it must have been written for Henry or Mary but its style seems reminiscent of an earlier age than the mid-1550s.

from notes by Andrew Carwood © 2006

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