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Track(s) taken from CDA67704

Vox Patris caelestis

possibly written for the Feast of the Assumption as celebrated at the church of St-Mary-at-Hill in the City of London
author of text
after Song of Songs

Westminster Abbey Choir, James O'Donnell (conductor)
Recording details: June 2008
All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Jeremy Summerly
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: October 2008
Total duration: 17 minutes 26 seconds

Cover artwork: Portrait of Elizabeth I.
The Deanery, Westminster Abbey / Copyright © Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Other recordings available for download

The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips (conductor)
The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips (conductor)
The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips (conductor)
The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (conductor)
Magnificat, Philip Cave (conductor)


'The beauties of this disc of 16th century choral music are many and various. The repertoire's selection and arrangement is inspired, the singing some of the best I've heard on CD … as a showcase for English choral singing at its most charismatic, this deserves to be widely heard' (Gramophone)

'The Choir of Westminster Abbey sings fresh, committed and emotionally compelling accounts. Many overpowering moments take place during Mundy's Vox Patris Caelestis … James O'Donnell shapes vocal lines with a keen sense of drama … the brilliance of the programming matches that of the singing' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Sheppard's sublime Libera nos unfolds like a hothouse flower amid other blooms from Tye, Tallis, Mundy and White' (The Observer)

'This latest addition to Hyperion's excellent Westminster Abbey series presents a fascinating snapshot of the musical upheavals created by Queen Mary's death and Elizabeth I's accession in 1558. Sheppard's Second Evening Service, composed in that year in a syllabic yet sonorously polyphonic style, marks the watershed between richly textured and highly elaborated Latin pieces, such as Mundy's Vox Patris caelestis, and the beautiful simplicity of Byrd's Teach me, O Lord. Recusant musical activity is also represented by Byrd's profoundly moving Ne irascaris' (The Daily Telegraph)

'The energy in the boys' voices is thrilling: they sear through the complex texture with evangelical zeal … this recording showcases the contrasts of style which made the 16th century such a fertile period of composition, and shows how the tradition of singing services at Westminster Abbey has continued unbroken for so many centuries' (Early Music Review)

'This is spectacularly fine singing, with James O'Donnell's obvious affection for the repertoire drawing from both boys and men some exquisite performances … the Westminster choir's most beautiful release to date' (International Record Review)

'In this brilliantly conceived programme … O'Donnell's superlative choir are peerless' (The Sunday Times)
Vox Patris caelestis was written during Queen Mary’s reign (1553–1558) and so is exactly contemporary with the Missa Papae Marcelli. It can be so precisely dated because it was written in a style which was unacceptable to the Protestant Tudor monarchs – Edward VI and Elizabeth I – and Mundy was too young to have written it in Henry VIII’s reign. The Catholic musical style which Mary encouraged was a very different one from the Papacy’s ideal in the 1550s: Mundy composed on an enormous scale and to him the audibility of the words was of secondary importance beside the free expansion of the melodies, though he clearly appreciated the sensual connotations of his text, which is adapted from the Song of Solomon, as in, for instance, the repetitions of the word ‘Veni’.

The underlying structure of the music is of the greatest importance to its effect, and for this reason we have printed the words divided into their sections. The solos build gradually to the three full sections, of which the last is the climax on the words ‘Veni, veni, veni: caelesti gloria coronaberis. Amen’. To build the more strongly to this last full section, the solo sections also increase in intensity, the last of them using the most spectacular scoring of voices which was available: two trebles, two means and two basses.

from notes by Peter Phillips © 1980

Vox Patris caelestis fut écrite durant le règne de la reine Marie (1553–1558) et est donc exactement contemporaine de la Missa Papae Marcelli. Elle peut être datée avec une telle précision parce qu’elle est composée dans un style qui était inacceptable pour les monarques Tudor protestants – Edouard VI et Elisabeth I – et Mundy était trop jeune pour l’avoir écrit durant le règne de Henri VIII. Le style musical catholique que Marie encourageait était très différent de l’idéal du pape dans les années 1550: Mundy composait sur une échelle énorme et pour lui l’intelligibilité des parles était d’importance secondaire à côté du libre développement des mélodies, quoiqu’il fut évidemment sensible aux connotations sensuelles de ce texte qui est adapté du Chant de Salomon, comme dans les répétitions du mot ‘Veni’.

La structure sous-jacente de la musique est de la plus grande importance pour son effet et c’est la raison pour laquelle nous donnons les paroles présentées dans leurs parties respectives. Les solistes arrivent graduellement aux trois chorus, dont le dernier est l’apogée sur les mots ‘Veni, veni, veni: caelesti gloria coronaberis. Amen’. Pour amener de façon encore plus puissante ce dernier chorus, les sections pour solistes augmentent encore d’intensité, la dernière d’entre elles utilisant l’arrangement le plus spectaculaire disponible pour les voix: deux sopranos (treble), deux contre-ténors, deux basses.

extrait des notes rédigées par Peter Phillips © 1980

Vox Patris caelestis wurde während Königin Marias Regierungszeit (1553–1558) komponiert und ist so genauso alt wie die Missa Papae Marcelli. Das Komposition kann so genau datiert werden, da ihr Stil für die protestantischen Tudor-Monarchen Eduard VI. und Elisabeth I. nicht akzeptabel gewesen wäre, und Mundy ist zu jung, als daß er in der Zeit Heinrichs VIII. hätte komponieren können. Der von Maria geförderte katholische Musikstil unterschied sich stark von dem päpstlichen Ideal der Zeit nach 1550: Mundy komponierte in großem Stil und für ihn war die Verständlichkeit des Textes von zweitrangiger Bedeutung, verglichen mit der freien Entfaltung der Melodien; allerdings war er sich durchaus der sinnlichen Bedeutung dieses dem Buch des Salomon entlehnten Textes bewußt, zum Beispiel der Wiederholung des Wortes ‘Veni’.

Die der Musik zugrundeliegende Struktur ist für ihre Wirkung von größter Bedeutung, und aus diesem Grund drucken wir den Text hier ab, in seine verschiedenen Sektionen getrennt. Die Soli bauen sich langsam zu den drei vollen Sätze auf, von denen der letzte den Höhepunkt darstellt mit den Worten ‘Veni, veni, veni: caelesti gloria coronaberis. Amen’. Um den Effekt des letzten Satzes noch zu verstärken, nehmen die Solopartien ebenfalls an Intensität zu, bis zum Schluß die imposanteste Partiturierung verwendet wird: zwei Diskantstimmen, zwei Mediusstimmen und zwei Bässe.

aus dem Begleittext von Peter Phillips © 1980

Eppure, le ultime grandi antifone del periodo Tudor vengon prodotte sino agli anni ’50 del Cinquecento. Forse l’esempio più noto di quest’epoca è Gaude gloriosa Dei Mater di Tallis, che con Gaude Virgo christiphera di John Sheppard sembra aver ispirato la monumentale Vox Patris caelestis di Mundy. Qui brilla l’eloquenza armonica e melodica dell’autore, e costituisce un ultimo tributo ad una delle forme musicali più versatili mai concepite per la chiesa nell’Inghilterra dei Tudor.

David Skinner © 1998
Italiano: Bruno Meini

Other albums featuring this work

Allegri: Miserere; Palestrina: Missa Papae Marcelli; Mundy: Vox Patris caelestis
Allegri: Miserere; Palestrina: Missa Papae Marcelli; Mundy: Vox Patris caelestis
GIMSE401Gimell (budget price)
Mundy: Sacred Choral Music
The Tallis Scholars Live in Oxford
Studio Master: CDGIM998Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
The Sixteen & The Golden Age of Polyphony
CDS44401/1010CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
The Tudors at Prayer
Studio Master: CKD447Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
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