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Hyperion Records

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Adoration of the Shepherds (detail) by Angelo Bronzino (1503-1572)
Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, Budapest / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67522
Recording details: March 2005
Westminster Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: October 2006
Total duration: 7 minutes 33 seconds

'With the glorious acoustical space of Westminster Cathedral, this disc has inbuilt atmosphere, enhanced by organ improvisations and by the choir's fluent singing of plainchant Latin antiphons and psalms as they might be heard at Christmas Eve Vespers … the service has as its spiritual climax the five-part Magnificat by Tallis, sung with invigorating thrust and guts that contrast favourably with more guarded approaches to the Renaissance masters' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Christmas comes with a combination of simplicity and stunning excitement in this recording' (American Record Guide)

'The real value of this disc is the palpable sense of atmosphere in the listening. The service unfolds in the acoustic space of the great Byzantine structure, almost making the listener present … this disc is quite unique, a hugely successful evocation of Catholic cathedral worship at its best' (Fanfare, USA)

'Westminster Cathedral Choir and Martin Baker give us a rich evocation of the complete service of Vespers at the Cathedral as it is currently sung. If you close your eyes you can almost smell the incense' (MusicWeb International)

'This issue presents a purified version of the Office of Vespers as it might be heard on Christmas Eve in Westminster Cathedral, a monument steeped in art, music and spirituality. The precious thread which runs throughout the whole liturgy on this disc is the 'chant' giving the office a rhythm rich in natural beauty as well as a clarity of text and expressive language. All this uplifting experience is complimented by motets and canticles by Tallis, Victoria and Schutz with Langlais' mighty 'Fête' for organ concluding this riveting service. The Cathedral Choir under Martin Baker sing their hearts out, and while intonation and ensemble are impeccable, it is the authentic love of this music that they so successfully bequeath to the listener' (Classical.net)

Alma redemptoris mater a 5
composer
first published in 1572
editor
from the 1576 edition published by Angelo Gardano in Venice, British Library
author of text
Antiphon to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Advent to the Feast of the Purification

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548–1611) is now considered one of Spain’s most famous composers, yet in his time he was regarded more as a Roman writer and little known in Spain until he returned there in 1587. Born near the great spiritual centre of Avila, he went to study in Rome after his voice broke and held numerous posts there before becoming maestro at the German College. In 1583 he petitioned King Phillip II that he might return to Spain to concentrate on his priestly duties (he had been ordained priest in 1575) and was allowed to return as chaplain to the Dowager Empress Maria. His five-part setting of the Marian antiphon for the Christmas season Alma redemptoris mater is an extended and richly coloured composition, spacious and grand.

from notes by Andrew Carwood © 2006

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