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Hyperion Records

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Nativity (1527) by Lorenzo Lotto (c1480-1556)
Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDH55367
Recording details: February 2003
Westminster Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: September 2003
Total duration: 6 minutes 50 seconds

O magnum mysterium
composer
6vv SSAATB; collection of motets for 5, 6 and 7 voices published in Rome, 1569
author of text
adapted from the Third and Fourth Responsories at Matins, Christmas Day

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
O magnum mysterium is a motet for the Nativity of Our Lord, which takes its text from the first half of the fourth and third Responsories at Matins on Christmas Day. It was included in a collection of motets, for five, six and seven voices, published in Rome in 1569. This exquisite six-part motet conveys superbly the awe and joy of the shepherds at the birth of Christ in a manger. Opening with a series of slow chords announcing the ‘great mystery and wonderful sacrament’, the music proceeds in a mainly homophonic idiom, with differing and well calculated combinations of voices, until it breaks into a lively triple time to represent the ‘chorus of angels praising God’, returning to duple time for a final section of pealing Alleluias; the second half has a similar structure and re-uses some of the material from the first half to very good effect.

from notes by Jon Dixon © 2003

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