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Hyperion Records

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St John the Evangelist (from the St Thomas altarpiece) by Pedro Burruguete (c1450-1504)
Convent of St Thomas, Avila / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDH55407
Recording details: February 1999
Westminster Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Release date: August 1999
Total duration: 4 minutes 38 seconds

'For sheer beauty of sound this recording is unsurpassed' (Gramophone)

'Missa Ecce ego Johannes bristles with enough energy to power the National Grid and the breathtaking authority, drive and power few other groups can emulate brings them thrillingly close to religious ecstasy' (Choir & Organ)

'Joyous performances' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Even among the Westminster Cathedral Choir's superb records this disc stands out. Perfect chording and ensemble, natural and musical phrasing, spot-on intonation and a glorious tonal blend, make this issue one to treasure' (The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs)

'Under James O'Donnell, Westminster Cathedral Choir has developed into what many regard as the nation's finest church choir. This release justifies that reputation. Palestrina's music emerges as more than the stuff of academic legend. There's a vibrancy in the opening Laudate pueri, while Peccantem me quotidie and Tribulationes civitatum both touch deep emotions, and the Mass Ecce ego Johannes radiates noble majesty. We are reminded that Palestrina was a highly individual composer, and every bit as Italian as, say, Monteverdi' (The Sunday Times)

'The listener can rejoice in the sumptuousness of the Westminster Cathedral sound with none of the anxiety over niggling imperfections that one suffers when hearing almost any other ensemble. The combination of accuracy with mastery of style is unrivalled' (Gramophone Early Music)

'Yet another superb disc from Westminster Cathedral … many consider not only the finest cathedral choir in Britain, but one of the best in the world. The sound is quite glorious' (Goldberg)

'This work could not be better sung than, as here, by the choir of Westminster Cathedral' (Contemporary Review)

Peccantem me quotidie
1572; 5vv; Motettorum liber secundus, Venice
author of text
Seventh Respond at Matins for the Dead

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Peccantem me quotidie, a penitential motet which first appeared in Motettorum liber secundus (1572, Venice) makes use of soaring melodic phrases and quite abrupt harmonic and textural contrasts. The text is haunted by the need for repentance and the fear of death: the words ‘timor mortis conturbat me’ (so chillingly reiterated by the fifteenth-century Scottish poet William Dunbar in his Lament for the Makers) are set in simple block chords, but move symbolically into new harmonic territory. There is an audible darkening, so to speak, with the despairing descending phrases of ‘nulla est redemptio’, but with the startling plea for mercy at ‘Miserere mei, Deus’, the end of the work is bathed in the light of hope.

from notes by Ivan Moody © 1999

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