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Hyperion Records

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St Michael. Detail of the centre panel of The Last Judgment Altarpiece (c1447) by Rogier van der Weyden (1399-1464)
Track(s) taken from CDH55054
Recording details: September 1988
All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Antony Howell
Release date: August 1990
Total duration: 37 minutes 15 seconds

'To sum up, it is one of the joys of being alive in the 1990s to be able to hear this incomparable music so competently and sympathetically—in fact ideally—performed' (Organists' Review)

'There are so many special moments that if you are a Taverner fan all I can do is to recommend strongly that you sample this CD' (CDReview)

Missa O Michael
composer
6vv; Festal Mass; the attribution to Taverner has been questioned
author of text
Ordinary of the Mass

Gloria  [9'48] LatinEnglish
Credo  [10'12] LatinEnglish

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Because Taverner’s first career as a musician is well documented only in the later 1520s, it is difficult to date his output other than on stylistic grounds. Of the three six-part Festal Masses, Missa O Michael has generally been considered an early work, largely because (as Taverner’s biographer Hugh Benham puts it) ‘it is distinctly inferior, and is sufficiently different from the rest of Taverner’s music for there to be doubts about its authenticity’. This rather harsh judgement should perhaps be taken in the context of the extremely high standard set by the other two Festal Masses, Gloria tibi Trinitas and Corona spinea. If not quite reaching these levels, Missa O Michael is nevertheless an impressive achievement. For instance, the gradual building of sonority in the Gloria is skilfully handled, with a series of differently scored short sections joining in the full six-voice texture at moments such as ‘Gratias agimus tibi’ and the final ‘qui sedes’ onwards. Somewhat surprisingly, on neither of the occasions on which the name of Jesus is mentioned in the Gloria text is it particularly highlighted: to pick out the Holy Name in block chords was a popular device at this time, and one which Taverner used elsewhere, such as in the Missa Corona spinea and the Ferial Missa Sancti Wilhelmi devotio. Another noteworthy feature of the Missa O Michael is the extreme rhythmic elaboration in the second Agnus Dei (beginning around 3'00": Taverner sets the Agnus movement in tripartite form). In this duet between treble and first contratenor voices, an initial slow triple tactus gradually increases in complexity through the addition of shorter notes and compound rhythms, with eventually eight notes being fitted into the time of three, and a final scalic melisma running up one-and-a-half octaves, before a third voice enters and brings the section to a climax, the short phrases passed between the voices at this point resembling the fourteenth-century technique of hocket.

from notes by Stephen Rice © 2009

Other albums featuring this work
'The Sixteen & The Golden Age of Polyphony' (CDS44401/10)
The Sixteen & The Golden Age of Polyphony
MP3 £35.00FLAC £35.00ALAC £35.00Buy by post £38.50 CDS44401/10  10CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
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