English Church Music

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  • Booklet languages: English, French
  • Libretto languages: Latin, English, French
  • Time: 189:24
  • Release Date: 2006

Review

A fairly random collection of the sacred music of three English composers from the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, each disc of this Harmonia Mundi three-disc set nevertheless has its attractive qualities. In the disc given to two masses and three motets by the celebrated William Byrd, the all-male Chanticleer sings with an austere warmth and an ardent severity that suit the music's stern sincerity. In the disc devoted to nine verse anthems by the far less known Pelham Humfrey, the combined forces of the Clare College Choir, Cambridge, directed by Timothy Brown, and the instrumental ensemble called Romanesca led by Nicholas McGegan plus five first-class English vocal soloists perform with the kind of dedicated enthusiasm and consummate musicianship that convincingly make the case for the unfamiliar music's greatness. And in the disc dedicated to the morning and evening Second Service plus related consort anthems by the great Orlando Gibbons, the combined forces of the Magdalen College Choir, Oxford, directed by Bill Ives accompanied by the five viols of the ensemble called Fretwork, turn in a performance of such purposeful strength and solemn intensity that they transform works composed four centuries ago into the incarnation of timeless spiritual aspirations. Although aficionados of English sacred music of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries may already have recordings of the works of Byrd and Gibbons included here, few will be likely to have recordings of much by Humfrey -- and that may be this set's most persuasive recommendation. Harmonia Mundi's digital sound, which ranges from 1987 for the Byrd through 1992 for the Humfrey to 2003 for the Gibbons, is consistently clear, deep, and warm. ~ James Leonard, Rovi

Performances

Composer Title Time
William Byrd Mass for 5 Voices (SATTB) 18:27
William Byrd Regina coeli, motet for 3 voices (SAT) 6:49
William Byrd Propers for the Mass of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for 5 voices (Gradualia, Book 1) 16:58
William Byrd Ave regina caelorum, motet for 4 voices (SATB) 4:33
William Byrd Salve Regina, motet for 4 voices (SATB) 5:04
Pelham Humfrey O Give Thanks Unto the Lord for 4 voices, strings & organ 9:56
Pelham Humfrey O Lord My God for 4 voices, strings & organ 11:43
Pelham Humfrey Have Mercy upon Me, O God, for 4 voices, strings & organ 7:41
Pelham Humfrey By the Waters of Babylon for 4 voices, strings & organ 10:52
Pelham Humfrey Lift up Your Heads for 4 voices, strings & organ 7:00
Pelham Humfrey Hear, O Heav'ns for 4 voices & organ 4:29
Pelham Humfrey Hear My Prayer, O God for 4 voices, strings & organ 5:44
Pelham Humfrey Hear My Crying, O God for 5 voices, strings & organ 10:29
Pelham Humfrey Like As the Hart for 4 voices, strings & organ 10:04
Orlando Gibbons This Is the Record of John, anthem for voices 4:26
Orlando Gibbons Almighty and everlasting God, anthem for 4 voices 2:28
Orlando Gibbons Work(s) (A Voluntary) 2:18
Orlando Gibbons Second Service (Verse Service), for 1-5 voices & organ 15:24
Orlando Gibbons The Hymnes and Songs of the Church (17 tunes by Gibbons) (Song 1) 1:26
Orlando Gibbons Work(s) (A Fancy for Double Organ) 5:49
Orlando Gibbons The Hymnes and Songs of the Church (17 tunes by Gibbons) (Song 9) 1:05
Orlando Gibbons Second Service (Verse Service), for 1-5 voices & organ (Magnificat) 6:12
Orlando Gibbons Second Service (Verse Service), for 1-5 voices & organ (Nunc dimittis) 3:39
Orlando Gibbons O clap your hands, anthem for 8 voices 5:57
Orlando Gibbons Great King of Gods (Lord of Lords), anthem for voices 4:35
Orlando Gibbons See, the word is incarnate, anthem for voices 6:16

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