Early Protestant reformers, for all their iconoclasm, stopped short of destroying much of Canterbury Cathedral’s medieval fabric and many of its moveable treasures. They were not so protective of the ancient monastic institution’s library of sacred polyphony, of which little more than a dozen fragments have survived. The imaginary soundworld of pre-Reformation Canterbury remains vivid in Gabriel Jackson’s mind, however, informed by his formative years as a chorister in the cathedral’s choir, an abiding affinity for the ritual delivery of music within a sacred space and close study of medieval musica practica, the craft of composition. Thomas, Jewel of Canterbury
, to a text recorded in an early fourteenth-century Cambridge manuscript, deals creatively with the distant musical past and its modern interpretation. The motet presents complex layers of melodic ornamentation above near-static sustained notes. Jackson recalls the florid style of late twelfth-century Parisian organum, especially as reinvented since the early 1980s by Marcel Pérès and his Ensemble Organum, interwoven with traces of plainchant, unmeasured melody and monumental eight-part chords, sounded at the work’s beginning and shortly before its end.
from notes by Andrew Stewart © 2013