Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

António TEIXEIRA (1707-c1759)
Te Deum (1734) [79.44]
Lynda Russell and Gillian Fisher (soprano)
Catherine Denley and Catherine Wyn-Rogers (alto)
William Kendall and Andrew Murgatroyd (tenor)
Michael George and Peter Harvey (bass)
The Sixteen
The Symphony of Harmony and Invention/Harry Christophers
Rec. St. Jude on the Hill, Hampstead, London
CORO COR16009 [79.44]
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The name of Antó nio Teixeira doesn't rate a mention in most books on music history and underlines the still subjective view of western European music as being firmly centred, both figuratively and literally, on the Italian and Germanic lands. It is only in the last decade or so that serious interest has been shown in early music from Spain. As for Portugal, where Teixeira was born and spent his career, it is perceived as such an outlier that the ignoring of major compositional talents such as Teixeira has been allowed to continue almost without opposition. This recording of his Te Deum of 1734 has been reissued on The Sixteen's own label Coro, having been previously available on Collins Classics.

This Te Deum is the sort of work which alone should inspire further research. It has never been unknown, and certainly not lost, but has simply been ignored. The autograph manuscript, no less, has lived for years on a shelf in the Italian Church in Lisbon, but nobody had managed to prepare a modern performing edition of it. The scoring calls for eight soloists, five choirs of four voices each and an orchestra containing strings, flutes, oboes, bassoon, horns and two organs. The scale is tremendous and the luxuriant textures that result are wonderful. That Teixeira was so much more than his posthumous reputation allows is clear from the skill in the marshalling of these huge forces. This music is full of subtlety as well as the verve and drama that massive forces allow. Unlike those better-known examples of the 'colossal Baroque' found in Venice or Salzburg in the early-mid 17th century, this early 18th century music contrasts the huge scale forces with many intimate arias and small ensemble combinations that are decidedly rococo in feel. Thus Teixeira is able to sustain variety and interest over nearly 80 minutes of music. There was a long Portuguese tradition of lengthy settings of the Te Deum to celebrate the new year and one wonders how many others are waiting to be performed. It is this sort of discovery that makes the early music scene still occasionally exciting.

While the music is a major discovery there are small aspects of the performance that are not quite as one might like. Teixeira sets the work in a slightly old-fashioned 'alternatum' idiom, meaning that every second verse is set to elaborate music while the remaining verses are sung in the traditional plainsong. This contrast is wonderful and allows the movements to be worked out on a musical scale that would not be possible were the entire text set. The plainsong sections are sung to Portuguese chants from a contemporary source. Clearly the research has been thorough, but it worries this writer that the chants still end up sounding as if they were English. They are being sung by Englishmen of course, but the 'way' in which they are sung is English too, and this is too clean and 'polite' for the setting. The same slightly restrained feel is apparent elsewhere and this writer questions the wisdom of such restraint in this very Iberian celebratory music. The performers themselves are uniformly excellent, especially the vocal soloists. The problem lies more in the overall sense of the architecture of Harry Christophers’ conception of the work. Certainly, he moves the music on and draws from his players and singers blended, well-tuned performances, but there is some feeling that he is leaving them to do their thing without getting in their way. One wonders how much more exciting the performance would be under, say, Jordi Savall or Nikolaus Harnoncourt. A little more earth and sun, even a bit of dirt, would seem to be wanted. The horns occasionally produce this, as apparent in Sample 1, but too frequently it sounds like they, and the continuo basses, are being restrained from playing with the abandon that makes the difference between a very good performance and a mind-expanding one. Hopefully it will not be long before it is possible to compare recordings of this fine music. In the meantime, there is much to enjoy on this disc.

Peter Wells


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FREE SOUND SAMPLES
(minimum 30 secs)

Te Deum Laudamus

Tibi omnes Angeli

Sanctus

Te gloriosus

Te Martyrum candidatus

Patrem immensae maiestatis

Sanctum quoque

Tu Patris sempiternus

Tu devicto mortis

Iudex crederis

Te ergo quaesumus

Salvum fac

Per singulos dies

Dignare Domine

Fiat misericordia tua

In te Domine speravi




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