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Hyperion Records

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Photograph of Westminster Cathedral by Malcolm Crowthers
Track(s) taken from CDH55335
Recording details: June 1988
Westminster Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Antony Howell
Release date: May 1989
Total duration: 23 minutes 52 seconds

'Under a new Master of Music, James O'Donnell, the Westminster Cathedral Choir are as intense and fervent as ever' (BBC Record Review)

'Such committed singing of such wonderful music makes this a CD not to be missed' (Organists' Review)

Missa O rex gloriae
4vv; 1601; Missarum liber duodecimus
author of text
Ordinary of the Mass

Kyrie  [3'12] GreekEnglish
Gloria  [5'04] LatinEnglish
Credo  [8'04] LatinEnglish

The Missa O rex gloriae was printed in the Missarum liber duodecimus of 1601, published in Venice, and is very faithful to its motet model in terms of balancing of technique and texture as well as of strict musical quotation and parody. All the movements begin with reminiscences of the motet’s opening in one form or another, and there are exact and nearly exact quotations throughout the Mass. The semitonal ‘ne derelinquas nos’ reappears in the second Kyrie, and also at ‘Tu solus’ in the Gloria; as with the motet, the figure is the more effective for its contrast with the other musical material. Homophony is also extensively used in the Mass, often interrupted by sudden explosions of counterpoint, as at ‘Filius Patris’ in the Gloria. There is a remarkable passage too at ‘Jesu Christe’, with a descending octave leap in the soprano part.

It is in the Credo that the use of static homophonic writing is most effective. ‘Et incarnatus’ is set entirely in very severe, slow chords following a dramatic musical descent at ‘descendit de caelis’. ‘Et iterum venturus est’ echoes the motet’s ‘spiritum veritatis’ in its trumpeting rhythms, and the ‘Alleluia’ figure appears at ‘et vitam venturi’, as it does also in the bouncing ‘Hosanna’ of the Sanctus. The Agnus Dei, perhaps unexpectedly, turns to an atmosphere of calm and serenity that is not really present elsewhere in the Mass.

from notes by Ivan Moody 1989

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