4 Dec 2017

In Dulci Jubilo: Music for the Christmas Season by Buxtehude and friends
Theatre of Voices / Paul Hillier

DACAPO 6.220661

This latest exploration of Buxtehude and his circle from Paul Hillier and the Theatre of Voices is a joyful, festive programme divided into four sections, The Annunciation & Advent, The Shepherds, the Nativity and New Year, Epiphany & Annunciation; each one containing a work by Buxtehude, at least one substantial motet by a related composer and an organ solo. It is recorded in the warm acoustic of Garnisonskirken, Copenhagen.

[...]  Lastly, a small masterpiece by Johann Christoph Bach (1642-1703), Merk auf, mein Herz for double choir. Listeners will know this from an intimate, meditative performance by Vox Lumis /Lionel Meunier (Ricercar – RIC 347). Here, however, Hillier offers a faster, more demonstrative and quick-witted reading. Listen out for the ox and ass, and the stunning setting of ‘zu ruhn in meines Herzens Schrein, daß nimmer ich vergesse dein.’ The execution of that last line (that I may never forget you) shows Hillier’s Midas touch.


To read the full text of this article please visit www.gramophone.co.uk (December 2017)

3 Dec 2017

Parle Qui Veut: Moralizing Songs of the Middle Ages

Parle Qui Veut: Moralizing Songs of the Middle Ages
Sollazzo Ensemble / dir. Anna Danilevskaia


This has to be one of the most exciting and engaging releases of medieval song in recent years. The Sollazzo Ensemble offer a programme of French and Italian works drawing chiefly on Trecento composers from around Florence and their French counterparts. The moralizing theme allows for a great deal of variety from both known and anonymous composers to form a coherent and varied programme. This album forms part of the ensemble’s prize as winners of the 2015 York Early Music Artists Competition and is recorded with a warm clarity by LINN records in the National Centre for Early Music. 

To read the full text of this article please visit www.gramophone.co.uk (December 2017)

2 Dec 2017

Nicholas Ludford: Missa Dominica

Nicholas Ludford: Missa Dominica
Trinity Boys Choir / Handbell Choir Gotha / Lewis Brito-Babapulle, Organ / David Swinson

Rondeau – ROP8001

Ludford’s Lady Masses stand apart from his more widely recorded Festal masses for their alternatim settings and unusual 3-part scoring. For this recording, composer and musicologist Graham Lack has realised an organ part through faburden and extempore accompaniment techniques that allows Missa Dominica to be sung by boys and tenors. Alternate verses are sung to Sarum chant.

Trinity Boys Choir have an incredibly warm sound, and one is charmed by the beauty of their collective tone [...]

To read the full text of this article please visit www.gramophone.co.uk (December 2017) 

1 Dec 2017

Edward Breen: Critic’s Choice 2017

Lucrezia Borgia's Daughter
Princess, Nun and Musician: Motets from a 16th century convent

Musica Secreta & Celestial Sirens 

Obsidian Records CD717


This album represents all that is trailblazing about early music: creative research and thrilling performances uniting sopranos and altos from different generations of leading British vocal ensembles. This passionate and, frankly, sensual vocal polyphony from the convent of Corpus Domini in Ferrara, home of Lucrezia Borgia’s daughter (1515–1575) is a revelation.

To read the full text of this article please visit www.gramophone.co.uk (December 2017)

11 Aug 2017

Occhi Turchini: Songs from Calabria

Occhi Turchini: Songs from Calabria
Pino de Vittorio & Laboratorio 600/ Franco Pavan
Glossa – GCDp33002

Franco Pavan’s recent forays into the exciting world of folk / early-music with Laboratorio ‘600 are stylish and exciting. His combination of poignant programming with crisp, exacting performances show he has a finger right on the pulse of current trends in musicology. This latest album, Occhi Turchini, brings the ultra-expressive and colourful voice of Pino de Vittorio together with some fascinating research into various cultural influences on Southern Italian music; the result is a selection of traditional Calabrian songs and instrumental works full of surprises.

[...] Throughout this album I am reminded that when Alan Lomax embarked on his Italian recording project for Columbia Records he promised the broadcaster RAI that his work would inspire a folksong revival. It is heartening, therefore, to see Lomax’s recording of Veni sonne de la muntagnella cited as the source for Pino de Vittorio’s haunting performance of the same song. Yet this disc is so much more than a revival, it is a celebration of Calabrian diversity and history.

To read the full text of this article please visit www.gramophone.co.uk (September 2017)

5 Jul 2017

Pange Lingua: Music for Corpus Christi

Pange Lingua: Music for Corpus Christi
Choir of Clare College, Cambridge
Graham Ross, director. Michael Papadopoulos, organ 

The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, directed by Graham Ross explore music for Corpus Christi through the hymns of Saint Thomas Aquinas. The programme forms part of their series of music for the liturgical year and traces a long arc from Josquin to the present including works by Victoria, Bairstow and Messiaen. 

[...] Although I prefer fewer voices in Josquin’s polyphony, this is one of the best choral performances of this mass on record.

[...] Francis Grier’s atmospheric setting of Panis Angelicus in memory of musicologist and conductor, David Trendell, is something of a showstopper. Lower voices form a rich, sonorous drone chord, from which the tentrils of solo soprano and tenor lines rise in a manner redolent of incense. In particular, the light, buoyant bloom of Alice Halstead’s soprano is spellbinding and I would suggest that she is a voice to listen out for. [...]

To read the full text of this article please visit www.gramophone.co.uk (July 2017) 

14 Jun 2017

The history of medieval English music on record

The history of medieval English music on record
Edward Breen

Now that we have simple access to vast quantities of recorded music it is all too easy not to notice that many great albums have still to be invited to this digital party. Great swathes of our recorded history, which Tom Moore neatly described a few years ago in Early Music America as ‘Our disappearing LP legacy’, are waiting to be rediscovered and time is running out as many libraries find they just do not justify the shelf space. Such challenges make historical record collecting rather adventurous; it takes intrepid listeners on voyages through sound archives (physical and online), record shops and digital download sites. It follows therefore that we must ask ourselves why preserving old recordings is important. Are we merely attempting to ensure a future for our nostalgia? The answer, as I hope to demonstrate, [...]

For the full text of this article please refer to Early Music (Oxford University Press: Jun 2017).
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/em/cax027