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Track(s) taken from CDA67507

Seven Letters

author of text
Revelation 2 & 3

Tonus Peregrinus, Antony Pitts (conductor)
Recording details: September 2000
St Peter and St Paul, Wadhust, East Sussex, United Kingdom
Produced by Martin Cotton
Engineered by Geoff Miles
Release date: June 2005
Total duration: 24 minutes 0 seconds

Cover artwork: Finale (detail) by David Jenks
Private Collection / Reproduced by kind permission of the artist


'Tonus Peregrinus is a double quartet of expert singers brought together by the composer. With firm, fresh voices and precise intonation … they sound as ideal a group for fulfilling his intentions as he is likely to find on this side of the Heaven to which so much of his music aspires' (Gramophone)

'Seven shorter pieces complete the programme, the best of which are Adoro te and Amen, both of which make striking use of dynamic and spatial effects. The performances are excellent' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Heatedly recommended' (Fanfare, USA)
In the Book of Revelation, St John’s vision of the living Lord is followed by Seven Letters, each one addressed to one of the seven churches in Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey. (Pitts’s fascination with the number seven extends beyond this piece to The Lord’s Prayer, O Love, O Wisdom of God, and Amen.) In Seven Letters, each of the letters begins on a different note of the scale (ascending from A through B flat, C, D, E, F, and ultimately to G). The composition devises ways of transmitting dense but colloquial prose through music. In another age this would have been called recitative – and so it is. However, a variety of methods of text delivery is explored in this piece and it is impossible to give a generic label to the processes which evolve and re-evolve throughout Seven Letters. The result is that each letter has its own distinctive voice (in every sense of the word). The last letter hides the tune of Amazing Grace within the second alto part as an oblique reference to the words ‘you can see’, and the very last sentence of the text is a musical elaboration of the ‘English’ cadence (a seven-note melodic motif with far-reaching harmonic implications), a building block which infuses all of Pitts’s music in some shape or form. On first hearing, this arching melody is difficult to pinpoint within the thick harmonic texture surrounding it, but the words suggest perseverance (‘He who has an ear, let him hear …’).

from notes by Jeremy Summerly © 2005

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