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Track(s) taken from CDA67643

Plebs angelica

1943; for the Choir of Canterbury Cathedral, January 1944
author of text
Manuscript of St Martial of Limoges

Westminster Abbey Choir, James O'Donnell (conductor)
Recording details: February 2007
Westminster Abbey, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Jeremy Summerly
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: September 2007
Total duration: 3 minutes 42 seconds

Other recordings available for download

St Paul's Cathedral Choir, John Scott (conductor)
BBC Singers, Stephen Cleobury (conductor)


'The disc is a splendid and colourful addition to the Abbey Choir's recordings of special services. They themselves are in fine form, sovereign (as befits the status of their church) in musical confidence, as well placed as the bright-toned voices of the boys who rise with an aplomb many opera house choruses might envy to the high Cs of the Langlais Mass, and show their mastery in still more wonderful ways by finding the notes scattered with hide-and-seek devilry in Tippet's Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis. And in that connection the soloist Nicholas Trapp deserves particular mention. Their style, under James O'Donnell's sure direction, is forthright and spirited, well attuned to the Jacobean mysticism of Dering's Factus est silentium as to Howell's ecstatic Sequence for St Michael … Kenneth Leighton's Responses are subtly varied and inventive' (Gramophone)

'The choir, atmospherically recorded in the Abbey itself, sings this demanding repertoire with its customary zeal and a well-blended sound, and the performances are directed with the panache and style one has come to expect from James O'Donnell. Robert Quinney's contribution as organist culminates in a Laus Deo from Jonathan Harvey aptly described by O'Donnell in his booklet note as 'the opulent psychedelia of [Messiaen's] Turangalîla compressed into four minutes'' (The Daily Telegraph)
Sir Michael Tippett’s output of liturgical music is small, and indeed most of it appears on this disc. The anthem Plebs angelica occupies a unique place in the English choral repertoire. It was composed for the choir of Canterbury Cathedral in 1943. Tippett chose to set this striking poetic text in the original Latin (an unusual, even bold choice at the time for a work written for an Anglican cathedral choir), and the musical language makes obvious reference to Tudor choral music in its imitative, polyphonic style and the choice of unaccompanied double-choir scoring. But it is no pastiche: Tippett is revisiting and reimagining his Tudor inspiration, and this music sounds at once fresh and unmistakably modern, while also having a strong flavour of older music. The composer’s sense of drama and responsiveness to the text is everywhere evident, not least at ‘Vos, o Michael’ and the following three phrases where each Archangel is given a distinct musical ‘personality’. The closing word ‘Paradisicolas’ is serenely set, bringing this superb miniature to a richly luminous conclusion.

from notes by James O'Donnell © 2007

La production liturgique de Sir Michael Tippett est si ténue qu’elle figure, pour l’essentiel, sur ce disque. L’anthem Plebs angelica occupe une place unique dans le répertoire choral anglais. Il fut composé en 1943, pour le chœur de la cathédrale de Canterbury. Tippett choisit de conserver l’original latin de ce saisissant texte poétique (une décision inhabituelle, voire osée, pour une œuvre destinée à un chœur de cathédrale anglican) et le langage musical fait d’évidentes références à la musique chorale Tudor, tant par son style imitatif polyphonique que par son écriture pour double chœur a cappella. Mais ce n’est en rien un pastiche: Tippett revisite et réinvente son inspiration Tudor dans une pièce qui, sous des dehors frais, indéniablement modernes, exhale un puissant parfum de musique ancienne. Son sens du drame, sa réactivité au texte sont partout flagrants, notamment à «Vos, o Michael» et dans les trois phrases suivantes, où chaque Archange se voit conférer une «personnalité» musicale propre. Le «Paradisicolas» conclusif est serein, qui donne à cette superbe miniature une conclusion richement lumineuse.

extrait des notes rédigées par James O'Donnell © 2007
Français: Hyperion Records Ltd

Das kirchenmusikalische Œeuvre von Sir Michael Tippett ist gering und erscheint nahezu komplett auf der vorliegenden CD. Das Anthem Plebs angelica bn nimmt einen einzigartigen Platz im englischen Chorrepertoire ein. Es wurde 1943 für den Chor der Kathedrale von Canterbury komponiert. Tippett vertonte diesen eindrucksvollen poetischen Text im originalen Latein (damals ein ungewöhnlicher, gewagter Entschluss für ein Werk für einen anglikanischen Kathedralschor), und die Musiksprache macht mit ihrem imitativen, polyphonen Stil und der Besetzung mit Doppelchor a cappella offensichtliche Anspielungen auf Chormusik der Tudorzeit. Es ist jedoch kein Pasticcio: Tippett kehrt zu seiner Tudor-Inspiration zurück und stellt sie sich neu vor, und seine Musik klingt gleichzeitig frisch und unverkennbar modern, während sie dennoch ein starkes Aroma älterer Musik besitzt. Das Gespür des Komponisten für Drama und seine Empfänglichkeit für den Text tritt überall zu Tage, nicht zuletzt bei „Vos, o Michael“ und den folgenden drei Phrasen, in denen jeder Erzengel seine eigene musikalische „Persönlichkeit“ erhält. Das Schlusswort „Paradisicolas“ wird friedlich heiter vertont, und bringt diese überragende Miniatur zu einem prächtigen, leuchtenden Abschluss.

aus dem Begleittext von James O'Donnell © 2007
Deutsch: Renate Wendel

Other albums featuring this work

The English Anthem, Vol. 6
CDA66826Archive Service
Tippett: Choral images
SIGCD092Download only
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