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Track(s) taken from CDA67629

Os iusti meditabitur

1879; 4/8vv; Lydian mode; composed for Ignaz Traumihler, choirmaster at St Florian
author of text
Psalm 36 (37): 30-31

Polyphony, Stephen Layton (conductor)
Recording details: January 2007
Ely Cathedral, United Kingdom
Produced by Adrian Peacock
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: October 2007
Total duration: 5 minutes 2 seconds

Cover artwork: Ely Cathedral (detail) by Thomas Lound (1802-1861)
Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery / Bridgeman Art Library, London

Other recordings available for download

Westminster Abbey Choir, James O'Donnell (conductor)
Corydon Singers, Matthew Best (conductor)
Voces 8
Tenebrae, Nigel Short (conductor)


'Peace and goodwill would be the order of the day if Father Christmas could hand out to all and sundry copies of Polyphony's recording of the Bruckner's Mass in E minor. No disc I've heard this year comes near it for sheer beauty … Polyphony, whose sound is … smoothly rounded, fully blended and sumptuous … Layton produces such gorgeous sounds from his singers that the overall listening experience is infinitely satisfying … the seven unaccompanied motets are absolute gems. An ethereal account of Ave Maria has a breadth and grandeur which belies its short time-span; as the vocal lines crowd in on each other, the effect is nothing short of electrifying. And popular as it is, if there has to be a 'definitive' interpretation on disc of Locus iste, this has to be it. Put it simply, we're unlikely to hear choral singing as fine as this for a good few years to come' (Gramophone)

'This really excellent offering from Polyphony … Polyphony trumps all others for beauty of tone … in the Benedictus, too, musical sense arises from transparency and intelligent phrasing … the performances of the motets are excellent, too, painting nuanced pictures of these vocally and philosophically stratospheric pieces' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Polyphony and the Britten Sinfonia catch the music's starkness, exaltation and mysticism as movingly as I have heard. This is a searching performance, with soft singing of awed intensity, but also an unusually dramatic one. Stephen Layton never allows Bruckner's music, even at its most unearthly, to become becalmed; and he builds climaxes of molten intensity in, say, the Sanctus, or the fervent motet Christus factus est. A glorious disc of music that strives for, and ultimately attains, a state of transcendent peace' (The Daily Telegraph)

'I wasn’t prepared for the excellence of this program … the musicianship is so sophisticated, so meticulous that it’s impossible not to get swept up in what the singers are doing … what really captures my attention is the spectrum of vocal colors these singers create in pianissimo range … Maestro Layton’s performances inspire the soul even as they break the heart with their intense beauty' (American Record Guide)

'This album finds the composer secure in his spiritual home, serving God in music transcendent. Stephen Layton's reading of the Second Mass articulates sublime, prayer-like qualities routinely overlooked and underplayed by others. The approach … is revelatory, rich in contrasts, fervent outbursts and symphonic tension … an outstanding release' (Classic FM Magazine)

'The performance is strong and characterful: beautifully sung by Polyphony and subtly, imaginatively accompanied by the Britten Sinfonia's wind band … the group sing with ravishing, lustrous tone throughout and phrase and colour magnificently. Their dynamic and dramatic range is great and tension is continually racked up under the baton of Stephen Layton, though never at the expense of vocal purity, profundity of expression or dignity of delivery' (MusicOHM.com)
On one level this is the most ‘purist’ product of Bruckner’s engagement with the principles of Franz Xaver Witt. Set in the old Church Lydian Mode (the white-note scale based on F) throughout, it contains no sharps or flats, no ‘dominant’ sevenths, and no six–four (second inversion) chords—the last two anathematized according to the supposed ‘rules’ of Palestrina’s time. The miracle is that it all sounds so effortless and natural, without so much as a hint of ironic or sentimental archaism. The central section (‘et lingua eius’) comprises some of the most serenely beautiful counterpoint in all Bruckner. At its conclusion, Os iusti dovetails skilfully into a plainchant ‘Alleluia’ celebrating the ancient wisdom of the Church.

from notes by Stephen Johnson © 2007

Il s’agit du produit brucknérien le plus «puriste» au regard des principes de Franz Xaver Witt. Recourant au vieux mode ecclésiastique lydien (la gamme en touches blanches fondée sur fa), il ne contient ni dièses, ni bémols, ni septièmes de «dominante», ni accords de sixte et quarte (deuxième renversement)—ces deux derniers étant anathématisés selon les «règles» supposées du temps de Palestrina. Le miracle, ici, c’est que rien ne sent l’effort ou l’artifice; on ne décèle pas même un soupçon d’archaïsme ironique ou sentimental. La section centrale («et lingua eius») compte parmi les contrepoints les plus sereinement beaux de tout Bruckner. À sa conclusion, Os iusti s’ajuste habilement à un «Alléluia» en plain-chant célébrant l’antique sagesse de l’Église.

extrait des notes rédigées par Stephen Johnson © 2007
Français: Hyperion Records Ltd

Auf einer Ebene ist dies das „puristischste“ Produkt von Bruckners Beschäftigung mit den Prinzipien von Franz Xaver Witt. Es steht durchweg in der alten lydischen Kirchentonart (weiße Tasten, beginnend auf F), enthält keine Kreuze oder bs, keine „Dominantsept“-Akkorde und keine Quartsextakkorde (zweite Umkehrung)—die letzten beiden anhand der angenommenen „Regeln“ der Palestrinazeit verpönt. Es ist ein Wunder, dass alles so mühelos und natürlich klingt, ohne jeglichen Hauch von ironischem oder sentimentalem Archaismus. Der Mittelteil („et lingua eius“) enthält einige der friedlichsten und schönsten kontrapunktischen Passagen Bruckners. Zum Abschluss geht Os iusti geschickt in ein choraliter gesungenes „Alleluia“ über, das die alte Weisheit der Kirche zelebriert.

aus dem Begleittext von Stephen Johnson © 2007
Deutsch: Renate Wendel

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