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Hyperion Records

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St Paul's Cathedral from the terrace of Old Somerset House (detail) by William James (1730-1780)
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Track(s) taken from CDH55359
Recording details: October 1997
St Paul's Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Martin Compton
Engineered by Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Release date: May 1998
Total duration: 20 minutes 21 seconds

'A disc well worthy of its subject' (Gramophone)

'Warmly recommended' (BBC Music Magazine)

'A very fine demonstration of the English choral tradition at its best' (Classic CD)

'Invigorating and uplifting, this is a disc to raise the lowest and most jaded of spirits' (Fanfare, USA)

'Highly recommendable for an excellent programme beautifully performed' (Organists' Review)

Te Deum 'Utrecht', HWV278
written for the Peace of Utrecht, 7 July 1713
author of text
Book of Common Prayer

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In the years after its opening, St Paul’s was regularly used for the celebrations of Marlborough’s military victories over the French. Purcell’s Te Deum and Jubilate continued to be performed, but in 1709 William Croft wrote a more up-to-date setting for a thanksgiving service after the Battle of Malplaquet (recorded on Helios CDH55252), with an orchestra of two oboes, two trumpets and strings, and a larger, more expansive structure, with a greater emphasis on fully developed separate movements. Handel seems to have taken Croft’s work as the immediate model for the Te Deum and Jubilate he wrote for the Peace of Utrecht in 1713, though it is likely that he also knew the Purcell Te Deum. The Utrecht Te Deum and Jubilate was first heard at a public rehearsal in the cathedral on 5 March 1713, when a newspaper reported that ‘many Persons of Quality of both Sexes’ attended, and that the music was ‘much commended by all that have heard the same, and are competent Judges therein’. The peace negotiations dragged on, and the thanksgiving eventually took place on 7 July.

The Utrecht Te Deum and Jubilate was a turning point in Handel’s career, as it was for English church music. It was the first major piece of religious music Handel wrote to English words, and it is the earliest choral work by him that remained in the repertory: it was performed in St Paul’s during the annual Festival of the Sons of the Clergy every other year (alternating with the Purcell Te Deum) until 1743, when it was replaced by Handel’s Dettingen Te Deum. Although it needs only one more instrument than the Croft setting—a solo flute—it is more spacious in its conception and more varied in its material. Indeed, it is particularly attractive because it is so varied: it ranges through F sharp minor, A minor, F major, D minor, C major and G minor as well as the expected ceremonial D major, and a surprising amount of it explores introspective areas of feeling. The Jubilate is a much shorter text than the Te Deum, so it allowed Handel to expand the size of his movements, and to demand more virtuosity from his vocal and instrumental soloists. He reworked the Jubilate in about 1717/18 for the much smaller forces available in the Duke of Chandos’s chapel at Cannons near Edgware in Middlesex.

from notes by Peter Holman © 1998

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