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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: 5 minutes 38 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)

Hodie Christus natus est, SWV456
composer
author of text
after Luke 2: 14

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The German composer Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672), the son of an innkeeper, was lucky enough to be talent-spotted by the Landgrave Moritz of Hessen-Kassel who heard him sing as a young man and asked to be entrusted with his education. Moritz must have been discerning, for Schütz was to become the pre-eminent composer of the seventeenth century, saturated with Italian ideas and achieving a wonderful marriage between the German language and musical imagination, both tasteful and clear. The brilliant and joyful Hodie Christus natus est alternates triple-time dancing Alleluias with duple-time sections to proclaim the birth of Christ. The piece as a whole is a riot of energy and rhythm with great juxtapositions between slow and fast pulses and high and low voices, all of the hallmarks of the Baroque period towards which Schütz clearly points the way.

from notes by Andrew Carwood © 2006

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