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Track(s) taken from CKD417

Quomodo cantabimus

author of text
Psalm 137

Magnificat, Philip Cave (conductor)
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Studio Master:
Studio Master:
Recording details: January 2012
St George's Church, Chesterton, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Produced by Philip Hobbs
Engineered by Philip Hobbs & Robert Cammidge
Release date: November 2012
Total duration: 8 minutes 35 seconds

Cover artwork: Second woodcut of the 1550 Rosarium philosophorum.

Other recordings available for download

Gallicantus, Gabriel Crouch (conductor)
Contrapunctus, Owen Rees (conductor)
Jesus College Choir Cambridge, Mark Williams (conductor)


'Sonic splendour abounds in the Magnificat choir's performance of this repertory. Byrd's eight-part Quomodo cantabimus unfurls majestically, ravishing the ear. In White's enormous five-part Lamentations, the choir lingers at just the right places. The subtle hues of the choir, an elite corps from Winchester and Westminster cathedrals, are particularly impressive in Byrd's Lamentation, a piece in which voicing gives the music its momentum' (BBC Music Magazine)» More

'The sober packaging of this disc gives little indication of the pleasure within. Pass it over at your peril. The small vocal group Magnificat, and its founder/director Philip Cave, explore Latin music from Tudor England mainly from the 1560s and 70s by Parsons, White and Byrd found in the Dow collection of manuscripts in the library of Christ Church, Oxford. An excellent booklet essay guides us through the changing fortunes of Latin texts in newly Protestant England, as well as questions of performance practice and pitch. But the long lines of intertwining and unfolding polyphony, performed with warmth and purity, is the reason to buy this inspirational CD' (The Observer)

'Compiled by the singer/musicologist Sally Dunkley and conducted by tenor Philip Cave, Magnificat's latest disc traces the survival of the Latin motet in the 1560s and 1570s. Byrd, Parsons and White were contemporaries, and the influence of Thomas Tallis, Byrd's teacher, can be felt in the purity of each composer's word-setting. From the aching lines of White's Lamentations to the deep groan of Byrd's Domine, the blend is beautifully relaxed and natural' (The Independent)

'What a way to open a CD! The spare beauty of Byrd's hymn Christe qui lux es et dies is quite devastating: no fancy part-writing, just simple block chords in which the hymn tune, sung in its unembellished form at the beginning and end weaves through the harmony leaving the other parts forlorn and angular. Performed with measured solemnity, this epitomises Philip Cave's style … Magnificat's recorded sound is spacious and rich, underpinned by a strong bass department, but with all the parts clear and some marvellous chording and part-crossing; false relations are met with discretion, and the phrasing is heart-rending … very highly recommended' (Early Music Review)» More
In 1584 Byrd engaged in a dialogue in motet form with Philippe de Monte (1521-1603). De Monte had travelled to England as a singer in the Royal chapel choir forming part of the Spanish King Philip II’s entourage as he celebrated his marriage to Queen Mary. The 11-year-old Byrd is believed to have met him on that occasion. Thirty years later de Monte, now employed in Prague, sent Byrd his 8-part motet Super flumina Babylonis, a setting of the first three verses of a well-known song of captivity, Psalm 137 (136 in the Vulgate). Its meaning ‘By the waters of Babylon, we sat down and wept when we remembered thee, O Zion’ would not have been lost on Byrd, who reciprocated by setting the next four verses of the same psalm, also in eight parts and in the same key. The translation of Quomodo cantabimus (How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land) can leave little doubt about Byrd’s feelings as a recusant Catholic in the newly-protestant England.

from notes by Phillip Borg-Wheeler © 2016

Other albums featuring this work

Byrd & Britten: Choral Works
Studio Master: SIGCD481Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Byrd & Monte: The Word Unspoken
SIGCD295Download only
Libera nos - The Cry of the Oppressed
SIGCD338Download only
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