Hyperion Records

Miserere mei, Deus
composer
SSAB SSATB
author of text
Psalm 50 (51)

Recordings
'Allegri: Miserere; Palestrina: Missa Papae Marcelli' (CDGIM041)
Allegri: Miserere; Palestrina: Missa Papae Marcelli
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99Buy by post £11.75 Studio Master: FLAC 24-bit 96 kHz £15.00ALAC 24-bit 96 kHz £15.00 CDGIM041  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Allegri: Miserere; Palestrina: Missa Papae Marcelli' (GIMBD641)
Allegri: Miserere; Palestrina: Missa Papae Marcelli
Buy by post £16.75 GIMBD641  Gimell Blu-Ray   This album is not available for download
'Allegri: Miserere; Palestrina: Missa Papae Marcelli; Mundy: Vox Patris caelestis' (GIMSE401)
Allegri: Miserere; Palestrina: Missa Papae Marcelli; Mundy: Vox Patris caelestis
MP3 £5.49FLAC £5.49ALAC £5.49Buy by post £6.75 GIMSE401  Gimell (budget price)  
'Allegri: Miserere' (SIGCD085)
Allegri: Miserere
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99 Studio Master: FLAC 24-bit 48 kHz £9.00ALAC 24-bit 48 kHz £9.00 SIGCD085  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Allegri: Miserere; Palestrina: Missa Papae Marcelli; Mundy: Vox Patris caelestis' (CDGIM339)
Allegri: Miserere; Palestrina: Missa Papae Marcelli; Mundy: Vox Patris caelestis
'Allegri: Miserere & the music of Rome' (CDA67860)
Allegri: Miserere & the music of Rome
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99Buy by post £10.50 Studio Master: FLAC 24-bit 44.1 kHz £9.00ALAC 24-bit 44.1 kHz £9.00 CDA67860  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'The Essential Tallis Scholars' (CDGIM201)
The Essential Tallis Scholars
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99Buy by post £11.75 CDGIM201  2CDs for the price of 1  
'Exultate Deo' (CDA66850)
Exultate Deo
'Hear my prayer' (CDH55445)
Hear my prayer
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55445  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
'The Tallis Scholars Live in Rome' (CDGIM994)
The Tallis Scholars Live in Rome
'Renaissance Radio' (CDGIM212)
Renaissance Radio
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99Buy by post £11.75 CDGIM212  2CDs for the price of 1  
'The Golden Age, Vol. 1 – Europe' (CKD052)
The Golden Age, Vol. 1 – Europe
MP3 £8.00FLAC £10.00ALAC £10.00 CKD052  Download only  
'The Music of St Paul's Cathedral' (SPCC2000)
The Music of St Paul's Cathedral
MP3 £4.50FLAC £4.50ALAC £4.50Buy by post £4.50 SPCC2000  Super-budget price sampler  
'Sacred Music in the Renaissance, Vol. 1' (GIMBX301)
Sacred Music in the Renaissance, Vol. 1
MP3 £15.99FLAC £15.99ALAC £15.99 GIMBX301  Boxed set (at a special price) — Download only  
'Sacred Music in the Renaissance, Vol. 3' (GIMBX303)
Sacred Music in the Renaissance, Vol. 3
MP3 £15.99FLAC £15.99ALAC £15.99Buy by post £17.50 Studio Master: FLAC 24-bit 44.1 kHz £24.00ALAC 24-bit 44.1 kHz £24.00 GIMBX303  4CDs Boxed set (at a special price)   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Details
Track 1 on CDGIM201 CD1 [12'28] 2CDs for the price of 1
Track 4 on CDH55445 [13'35] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Track 1 on GIMBD641 [13'41] Gimell Blu-Ray
Track 9 on GIMBD641 [13'48] Gimell Blu-Ray
Track 1 on GIMBX301 CD1 [12'31] Boxed set (at a special price) — Download only
Track 9 on GIMBX303 CD3 [13'48] 4CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Track 1 on GIMSE401 [12'31] Gimell (budget price)
Track 9 on SIGCD085 [11'59] Download only
Track 13 on SPCC2000 [13'35] Super-budget price sampler
Verses 1-6 & 19-end: Miserere mei, Deus

Miserere mei, Deus
EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The piece known as ‘Allegri’s Miserere’, a setting for nine voices of Psalm 51, has a bizarre history. It is highly unlikely that the widely accepted twenty-first-century version was ever written down by the composer and it has come into being as a result of a number of factors. Allegri wrote a relatively restrained setting of the words of Psalm 51 and his singers would have been expected to adorn his original with ornaments and embellishments, probably getting more florid as the piece went along. The setting was traditionally sung during the Holy Week services in the Sistine Chapel until the 1870s, and the ornaments used by the singers to decorate Allegri’s original were famously not written down but passed from generation to generation. Various attempts were made by prelates, noblemen and musicians (including Leopold I, Padre Martini, Mozart, Burney and Mendelssohn) to procure a ‘correct’ version of the piece. The versions which these people heard or saw or published served only to confuse the issue. There was no reliable ‘urtext’ edition on which to draw and it was only with the gradual rediscovery of various sources and manuscripts that a version in Latin with Allegri’s original and a single set of ornaments for the soloists together with interpolated plainsong verses was produced by the late Dr George Guest at St John’s College, Cambridge in the late 1970s. Since then, regular performances of the Miserere in English cathedrals and chapels have firmly cemented the piece as an essential part of our musical heritage.

Regardless of its authenticity (if such a thing can be said to exist) the magic of the piece relies on the juxtaposition of the original falsobordone written by Allegri with the ornaments or abbellimenti added in the solo writing and the plangent tones of the plainsong verses (sung to the chant ‘Tonus Peregrinus’ which is quoted in the topmost voice of Allegri’s original). The biggest debate rages about the famous high ‘C’. It can be said with some certainty that a composer of Allegri’s generation and education would be highly unlikely to write the ungainly interval of an augmented fourth in the bass part in the solo section. Yet only with this interval does the top ‘C’ become possible and the top ‘C’ is now the sine qua non for the listener! Contemporary taste and bravura must have played a part in the ornaments that singers chose to use when improvising in the Papal Chapel and the ornaments heard by the young Mozart could have been a world away from the version sung by Allegri’s own choir in the early seventeenth century. Perhaps they found a way of embellishing up to top ‘C’ without the unacceptable harmonic shift, a shift which although ‘breaking the rules’ sounds to our modern ears unremarkable.

from notes by Andrew Carwood © 2011

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