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Track(s) taken from CDA67680

Festival Te Deum in E, Op 32

First line:
We praise thee, O God
1944; first performed on 24 April 1945; composed for the centenary festival of St Mark's Church, Swindon
author of text
Book of Common Prayer

Westminster Abbey Choir, James O'Donnell (conductor), Robert Quinney (organ)
Recording details: June 2007
Westminster Abbey, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Jeremy Summerly
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: April 2008
Total duration: 6 minutes 11 seconds

Cover artwork: Westminster Abbey (1904) by John Fulleylove (1845-1908)
Mary Evans Picture Library, Blackheath, London

Other recordings available for download

Corydon Singers, Matthew Best (conductor), Thomas Trotter (organ)
Jeremy Budd (treble), St Paul's Cathedral Choir, John Scott (conductor), Andrew Lucas (organ)
Jesus College Choir Cambridge, Julia Sinclair (soprano), Mark Williams (conductor), Benjamin Morris (organ)


'Everything is a joy here, including the modern works, the anthem Viri Galilaei by Patrick Gowers and Francis Pott's brilliant Toccata for organ, played with assured virtuosity by Robert Quinney. The choir of Westminster Abbey under James O'Donnell sing with the happy care which his choristers at the Cathedral used to bring to their work with him' (Gramophone)

'This close-your-eyes and you're there service is almost matter-of-fact in its excellence … it's good to see that English cathedral music is still intact: its future is represented by Francis Pott's Toccata, commandingly played by Robert Quinney, which rounds off a truly feel-good recording for cathedral music fans' (Choir & Organ)

'This addition to Westminster Abbey's invaluable series of music for feast-days gets off to a cracking start with Stanford's magnificent eight-part motet Caelos ascendit hodie. This sets a jubilant tone for the whole programme, which contains some outstanding 20th-century contributions to the Anglican repertoire, including Britten's Festival Te Deum with its exciting organ effects, Finzi's triumphant God is gone up and Patrick Gowers's Viri Galilaei, whose meditative opening leads to a paean of exultation. All these, and Schutz's Der 100. Psalm, are sung with exhilarating panache' (The Daily Telegraph)

'No one does this grand scale of Anglican service music better than Westminster Abbey, and again the performances of this very demanding music are of the highest order … truly a triumphant recording' (American Record Guide)

'The planning is astute … just as cunning is the way some old cathedral favourites nestle alongside more contemporary settings. O clap your hands and God is gone up may be Anglican staples, but they are given fresh and energetic renditions here, while the brief Stanford motet at the start is a most exhilarating introduction. Best of all, perhaps, is Ascension motet Viri Galilaei by Patrick Gowers … this splendid and dramatic setting with its concluding triumphant hymn is further vibrant proof of his sympathetic writing for voices' (International Record Review)

'After seven years at the helm, James O'Donnell has made a formidable singing outfit of the Westminster Abbey Choir … the treble line is robust and thrilling, its soloist, Jacob Ewens, a sinuous star in Britten's Te Deum in E' (The Times)

'Another offering to lift the soul heavenwards from James O'Donnell and his choir, as they continue their exploration of liturgical repertoire across the centuries … the first thing that hits you about the singing is the celebratory tone. The boys might be singing Stanford's Caelos ascendit hodie, but they could just as easily be trilling 'Woohoo! It's Ascension Day!'. I love such musical joie de vivre, and not every choir is able to produce it convincingly as these chaps. It doesn't come at the expense of quality, though; this is Westminster Abbey Choir at their crystalline best, with spot-on pitching, enviable articulation and sympathetic phrasing … it is a stirring, beautifully judged programme of music, performed to the highest standard' (bbc.co.uk)
This great hymn of praise is one of the four canticles prescribed (two are sung at any given Matins), and has attracted the imagination of many composers. Benjamin Britten wrote two settings. This Festival Te Deum was composed in 1944 for the choir of St Mark’s Church, Swindon. The opening section ‘We praise thee, O God’ creates an almost trance-like, unworldly effect as the unison voices sing in apparently free time against strictly regular organ chords decorated with pseudo-Baroque ornaments. At ‘Thou art the King of glory’ the music abruptly changes character; now it is driving and rhythmic and the organ part kinetic. The trebles reach a climactic high B at ‘in glory everlasting’, and then the music quickly subsides into the dreamy atmosphere of the opening. The next few lines of the text are taken by a treble soloist, who briefly re-emerges at the very end (‘let me never be confounded’) to bring the canticle to a serene conclusion.

from notes by James O'Donnell © 2008

Cette grande hymne de louange (l’un des quatre cantiques prescrits, dont deux sont chantés à Matines) a stimulé l’imagination de nombreux compositeurs, tel Benjamin Britten, qui la mit deux fois en musique. Le présent Festival Te Deum fut écrit en 1944 pour le chœur de St Mark’s Church (Swindon). La section liminaire «We praise thee, O God» crée un effet de détachement, presque de transe, quand les voix à l’unisson chantent dans une mesure apparemment libre, sur fond d’accords organistiques strictement réguliers, décorés d’ornements pseudo-baroques. À «Thou art the King of glory», la musique devient brusquement battante, rythmique, avec une partie d’orgue énergique. Les trebles atteignent un paroxystique si aigu, à «in glory everlasting», puis la musique s’évanouit rapidement dans la langueur de l’ouverture. Les quelques versets suivants sont assumé par un treble solo, qui ressurgit brièvement à la toute fin («let me never be confounded») pour clore sereinement le cantique.

extrait des notes rédigées par James O'Donnell © 2008
Français: Hyperion Records Ltd

Diese große Hymne ist eine der vier vorgeschriebenen Lobgesänge, von denen zwei zur Matutin gesungen werden. Sie hat die Phantasie vieler Komponisten beflügelt, und Benjamin Britten schrieb zwei Vertonungen. Dieses Festival Te Deum wurde 1944 für den Chor der Markuskirche in Swindon geschrieben. Der einleitende Abschnitt „We praise thee, O God“ kreiert einen nahezu trancehaften, überirdischen Effekt, indem die Unisono-Stimmen in scheinbar freiem Metrum gegen regelmäßige Orgelakkorde singen, die mit pseudobarocken Ornamenten verziert werden. Bei „Thou art the King of glory“ wechselt der Charakter der Musik plötzlich: sie ist jetzt drängend und rhythmisch, die Orgelstimme kinetisch. Die Soprane erreichen bei „in glory everlasting“ einen Höhepunkt auf dem hohen H, und dann ebbt die Musik schnell wieder in die träumerische Atmosphäre des Anfangs ab. Die nächsten beiden Zeilen des Textes werden von einem Sopran-Solisten übernommen, der kurz vor dem Ende („let me never be confounded“) kurz wieder erscheint, um den Lobgesang zu einem heiteren Beschluss zu bringen.

aus dem Begleittext von James O'Donnell © 2008
Deutsch: Renate Wendel

Other albums featuring this work

Britten: A Boy was Born & other choral works
Hear my prayer
Out of darkness
Studio Master: SIGCD409Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
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