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Track(s) taken from CDA68038

Ave verum corpus

4vv; Gradualia I (1605)
author of text
Hymn to the Blessed Sacrament, Corpus Christi

Westminster Cathedral Choir, Martin Baker (conductor)
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Studio Master:
Studio Master:
Recording details: October 2013
Westminster Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Adrian Peacock
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: September 2014
Total duration: 4 minutes 43 seconds

Cover artwork: The Madonna delle Ombre (1450, detail) by Fra Angelico (Guido di Pietro) (c1387-1455)
Museo di San Marco dell'Angelico, Florence / Bridgeman Art Library, London

Other recordings available for download

The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips (conductor)
The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips (conductor)
The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips (conductor)
Westminster Cathedral Choir, James O'Donnell (conductor)
Winchester Cathedral Choir, David Hill (conductor)
Laudibus, Michael Brewer (conductor)
The Cambridge Singers, John Rutter (conductor)
The Cambridge Singers, John Rutter (conductor)
Armonico Consort, Christopher Monks (conductor)
Jesus College Choir Cambridge, Mark Williams (conductor)


'The power of this performance is undeniable. Forced to sing secretly, Tudor Catholics would surely have welcomed the Westminster Cathedral Choir’s full-throated expression of faith' (BBC Music Magazine)» More

'Byrd's double life, in public a member of Queen Elizabeth I's Chapel Royal in a newly Protestant England, in private a covert Catholic, directly shaped his music. Grand works such as the Great Service are among the glories of the English choral tradition. In contrast, the three Latin masses set here, long neglected, were for amateur, chamber performance in hidden Catholic communities. Westminster Cathedral Choir may sing them with more splendour and finesse than Byrd himself would have expected, yet the results are uplifting and moving. It's no slight to these musicians to say the disc is worth buying for the Byrd scholar John Milsom's incomparable notes: a masterly encapsulation of Tudor church music history in a few dense pages' (The Observer)» More

'Aided by the clarity of the recording, which nevertheless gives a sense of the ambiance of the Cathedral, all four parts (Agnus Dei, 4-part mass) shine through in a balance between the voices achieved at least as well as on any other recording … if I could have 24-bit sound on the island, the new Hyperion would have to be my first choice. It also sounds fine even in mp3—I haven’t tested the in-between 16-bit version—and it comes with a booklet of the usual high Hyperion quality' (MusicWeb International)» More
Gradualia includes the four-voice motet Ave verum corpus, which sets words specified in the Catholic liturgy for use on the feast of Corpus Christi. Today no composition by Byrd is performed and recorded more often than this one, partly because it is such a gem, partly because it offers such rich opportunities for expressive singing, and partly because it is technically not hard for choirs to sing. Nonetheless this motet, like Byrd’s Masses, attained its popularity only in the modern era; being strictly a Catholic work, it was totally shunned by English church musicians until its revival by Catholic choirs late in the nineteenth century. In an age of greater religious tolerance its popularity quickly spread, and by a pleasing twist of fortune Byrd’s Ave verum corpus is now a staple not only of Catholic choral worship, but of Anglican too. Ave verum corpus at Evensong: again, Byrd would have been amazed.

from notes by John Milsom © 2014

Le cycle de Gradualia comprend le motet à quatre voix Ave verum corpus, qui met en musique le texte que la liturgie catholique assigne à la fête de Corpus Christi. De nos jours, aucune composition de Byrd n’est plus jouée, plus enregistrée que celle-ci—il faut dire que c’est un joyau, se prêtant abondamment au chant expressif, et qui n’est pas techniquement trop difficile pour les chœurs. Néanmoins, comme les messes de Byrd, ce motet ne fut pas populaire avant l’époque moderne; strictement catholique, il fut totalement boudé par les musiciens d’église anglais jusqu’à sa résurrection par des chœurs catholiques, à la fin du XIXe siècle. Dans cet âge de plus grande tolérance religieuse, il gagna rapidement en popularité et, par un plaisant coup du sort, il fait désormais partie intégrante du culte choral et catholique, et anglican. Un Ave verum corpus à l’Evensong: là encore, Byrd en eût été stupéfait.

extrait des notes rédigées par John Milsom © 2014
Français: Hypérion

In den Gradualia findet sich die vierstimmige Motette Ave verum corpus, in der der Text vertont ist, der in der katholischen Liturgie für Fronleichnam vorgegeben ist. Heute wird kein Werk Byrds öfter aufgeführt und eingespielt als dieses—einerseits ist es ein besonders gelungenes Werk, andererseits bietet sich hier reichlich Gelegenheit für expressiven Gesang und schließlich ist der technische Anspruch für den Chor nicht sonderlich hoch. Trotzdem ist diese Motette, ebenso wie die Messen Byrds, erst in der modernen Zeit so populär geworden; als ausgewiesen katholisches Werk wurde es von den Kirchenmusikern Englands gemieden, bis katholische Chöre es im späten 19. Jahrhundert wieder in ihr Repertoire aufnahmen. In einem Zeitalter größerer religiöser Toleranz erfreute sich dieses Werk zusehends großer Beliebtheit und dank einer erfreulichen Wendung in der Geschichte ist das Ave verum corpus heute nicht nur ein Standardwerk der katholischen, sondern auch der anglikanischen Chorliteratur. Ave verum corpus beim Evensong: Byrd wäre auch darüber überaus erstaunt gewesen.

aus dem Begleittext von John Milsom © 2014
Deutsch: Viola Scheffel

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