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Hyperion Records

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Ely Cathedral (detail) by Thomas Lound (1802-1861)
Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67629
Recording details: January 2007
Ely Cathedral, United Kingdom
Produced by Adrian Peacock
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: October 2007
Total duration: 3 minutes 2 seconds

'Peace and goodwill would be the order of the day if Father Christmas could hand out to all and sundry copies of Polyphony's recording of the Bruckner's Mass in E minor. No disc I've heard this year comes near it for sheer beauty … Polyphony, whose sound is … smoothly rounded, fully blended and sumptuous … Layton produces such gorgeous sounds from his singers that the overall listening experience is infinitely satisfying … the seven unaccompanied motets are absolute gems. An ethereal account of Ave Maria has a breadth and grandeur which belies its short time-span; as the vocal lines crowd in on each other, the effect is nothing short of electrifying. And popular as it is, if there has to be a 'definitive' interpretation on disc of Locus iste, this has to be it. Put it simply, we're unlikely to hear choral singing as fine as this for a good few years to come' (Gramophone)

'This really excellent offering from Polyphony … Polyphony trumps all others for beauty of tone … in the Benedictus, too, musical sense arises from transparency and intelligent phrasing … the performances of the motets are excellent, too, painting nuanced pictures of these vocally and philosophically stratospheric pieces' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Polyphony and the Britten Sinfonia catch the music's starkness, exaltation and mysticism as movingly as I have heard. This is a searching performance, with soft singing of awed intensity, but also an unusually dramatic one. Stephen Layton never allows Bruckner's music, even at its most unearthly, to become becalmed; and he builds climaxes of molten intensity in, say, the Sanctus, or the fervent motet Christus factus est. A glorious disc of music that strives for, and ultimately attains, a state of transcendent peace' (The Daily Telegraph)

'I wasn’t prepared for the excellence of this program … the musicianship is so sophisticated, so meticulous that it’s impossible not to get swept up in what the singers are doing … what really captures my attention is the spectrum of vocal colors these singers create in pianissimo range … Maestro Layton’s performances inspire the soul even as they break the heart with their intense beauty' (American Record Guide)

'This album finds the composer secure in his spiritual home, serving God in music transcendent. Stephen Layton's reading of the Second Mass articulates sublime, prayer-like qualities routinely overlooked and underplayed by others. The approach … is revelatory, rich in contrasts, fervent outbursts and symphonic tension … an outstanding release' (Classic FM Magazine)

'The performance is strong and characterful: beautifully sung by Polyphony and subtly, imaginatively accompanied by the Britten Sinfonia's wind band … the group sing with ravishing, lustrous tone throughout and phrase and colour magnificently. Their dynamic and dramatic range is great and tension is continually racked up under the baton of Stephen Layton, though never at the expense of vocal purity, profundity of expression or dignity of delivery' (MusicOHM.com)

Locus iste a Deo factus est
composer
Gradual: first performed 1869 and the dedication of the Votive Chapel of the new Linz Cathedral; 4vv
author of text

Other recordings available for download
Corydon Singers, Matthew Best (conductor)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Locus iste had its premiere at the dedication of the Votive Chapel of the newly built Linz cathedral, in the same service as the Mass in E minor. Bruckner had been appointed organist at the old cathedral in 1856, and the Bishop, Josef Franz Rüdiger—a highly conservative but very humane man—had soon become an important artistic and spiritual father-figure. The text celebrates a sacred place: for liturgical purposes this would have been the new cathedral, but Bruckner may well have been thinking of St Florian—his true spiritual home, to which he often returned in later years (especially at times of crisis). As in the symphonies, the proportions of Locus iste are carefully calculated. Take the silence before the final ‘a Deo factus est’: where most composers would be content to put a simple pause, Bruckner preserves his proportions by carefully measuring out five beats. Elegant symmetry is as vital here as in a great medieval cathedral—or, indeed, in the chaste but reassuringly contained environs of St Florian.

from notes by Stephen Johnson © 2007


Other albums featuring this work
'Bruckner: motets' (CDA66062)
Bruckner: motets
'The Essential Hyperion, Vol. 1' (HYP12)
The Essential Hyperion, Vol. 1
This album is not yet available for download HYP12  Super-budget price sampler — Deleted  

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