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Alma redemptoris mater

author of text
Antiphon to the Blessed Virgin Mary from Advent to the Feast of the Purification

The second of Northcott’s cycle of antiphons sets a version of the plainchant Alma redemptoris mater in the top line against two other simultaneous Marian texts—the bottom line also being governed by isorhythm. This was composed for three male voices, but the composer has happily agreed to it to be transposed up for soprano and alto chorus. In this piece, Northcott carries forward the three-part sonorities of early fifteenth-century music in the works of John Dunstaple, Leonel Power and others. A closer comparison might be made between this work and the setting of the same Marian text attributed to both of these composers, since this has a more contrapuntal texture and opens with a simple exposition of the opening phrase of chant, as in Northcott’s setting. As in his Salve regina there is a gradual increase in momentum and tension as the piece progresses, but a particular feature of the work as a whole is Northcott’s deployment of detailed performance indications in the score, with subtle variations of dynamic and accent emphasising the character of the lines.

from notes by Geoffrey Webber © 2006


All the ends of the earth
SIGCD070Download only


Track 9 on SIGCD070 [4'55] Download only

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD070 track 9

Recording date
1 September 2004
Recording venue
Ely Cathedral, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Thomas Hewitt Jones
Recording engineer
Edward Bainton & Hugh Conway
Hyperion usage
  1. All the ends of the earth (SIGCD070)
    Disc 1 Track 9
    Release date: January 2006
    Download only
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