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Hyperion Records

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The Adoration of the Magi (tapestry made by William Morris & Co) by Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898)
Hermitage, St Petersburg, Russia / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDH55443
Recording details: February 2001
St Paul's Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: January 2002
Total duration: 2 minutes 57 seconds

'Luminous with a sense of goodness and well-being, brightest and best of choral records for the last many months … a distinguished record' (Gramophone)

‘Fascinatingly diverse anthology … a tonal brightness and rhythmic vitality that sparkle with festive brilliance’ (BBC Music Magazine)

‘This series is the richest treasure trove an Anglican musician or English choral buff could hope to find. Texts and notes are an Anglophile’s dream. Sound is stunningly rich and ringing’ (American Record Guide)

‘The eclectic and thoughtful repertoire mix make for compelling listening … warmly recommended’ (Classic FM Magazine)

‘The choral tone is pleasant, the soloists are well chosen, and the recorded balance keeps everything in perspective’ (Fanfare, USA)

'Hurrah for John Scott and St Paul's, who with this wonderful CD remind all how glorious the Epiphany repertoire is … every piece is approached as if it were the finest thing ever written, and joy is taken in rendering the simple beautiful … let us rejoice at the richness of this programme' (Organists' Review)

‘Seventy-two minutes of utter bliss. This is a disc of St Paul’s and the Hyperion team at their best. Organ and choir make an impact and what a magnificent sequence of music! … this is one of the finest discs I have heard in a long time and I have not stopped playing it’ (Cathedral Music)

‘There is much of merit here, and those who collect St Paul’s and church music in general won’t go far wrong with this one’ (The Delian)

Tribus miraculis
composer
1585; 4vv
author of text
Antiphon at Second Vespers on the Feast of the Epiphany

Introduction
Luca Marenzio (1553/4–1599) was an Italian composer and singer with a particular gift for ‘word painting’ in his madrigals. There are scant details of his early career, but he was known to be in the service of Cardinal Cristoforo Madruzzo who died in 1570. Marenzio moved to the household of Madruzzo’s friend, Cardinal Luigi d’Este, where he remained until 1586. At this time Marenzio was called upon to provide the Oratorio della S Trinità for the Lenten season in Rome in 1583.

In 1588 he entered the service of the grand Duke Ferdinando de’ Medici, who took with him to Florence a musical retinue aimed at surpassing the glories of the d’Este household at Ferrara. He returned to Rome in 1589 in the employ of the Duke of Bracciano, although Marenzio’s output as a composer was never as great (either in volume or quality) as it had been in his earlier years. His later works are serious and more intense—perhaps reflecting a crisis that had befallen him whilst in Florence.

It was during his service with d’Este that Marenzio became known as a composer of madrigals. He has been described by the academic and writer Jerome Roche as ‘the greatest purely madrigal composer in the whole history of the Italian Madrigal, and the one in whose hands it reached its culmination as a form with a musical life of its own not slavishly dependent upon its poetry’. His work shows the influence not only of Palestrina’s technical assurance and contrapuntal brilliance but also of the innovative Andrea Gabrieli.

Marenzio’s sacred works are less well known than his madrigals, but their characteristics are the same: outstanding verbal imagery and subtle symbolism. Tribus miraculis dates from 1585 and is scored for four voices. The musical highlights of this piece are to be found in the astonishing changes in texture: the florid setting of the opening text (describing the ‘three miracles’) is scored for three voices; two upper parts represent the star leading to the manger; there is an appropriate, startling change at the words ‘today water was changed into wine’; and there are inspired chromatic alterations at the description of the baptism ‘by John in the Jordan’ and again at the words ‘our salvation’. By way of a spectacular finale, Marenzio provides an unusual sequential ‘Alleluia’ to complete this vocal tour de force.

from notes by William McVicker 2002

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