Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


 

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Roland de LASSUS (1532-1594)
Aurora lucis rutilat
Tomas Luis de VICTORIA (c1548-1611)
Ave Maria
Eustache du CAURROY (1549-1609)
Victimae paschali laudes
Roland de LASSUS (1532-1594)
Salve regina
Francisco GUERRERO (1528-1599)
Duo seraphim
Phillipe de MONTE (1521-1603)
Super flumina babylonis
Peter PHILIPS (1561-1628)*
Jubilate deo
Giovanni Pier Luigi da PALASTRINA (c1525-1592)*
Stabat mater
Alessandro STRIGGIO (c1540-1592)*
Ecce beatem lucem
Thomas TALLIS (1505-1585)
Spem in alium
Roland de LASSUS (1532-1594)
Aurora lucis rutilat
Tomas Luis de VICTORIA (c1548-1611)
Ave Maria
Eustache du CAURROY (1549-1609)
Victimae paschali laudes
Roland de LASSUS (1532-1594)
Salve regina
Francisco GUERRERO (1528-1599)
Duo seraphim
Phillipe de MONTE (1521-1603)
Super flumina babylonis
Peter PHILIPS (1561-1628)*
Jubilate deo
Giovanni Pier Luigi da PALASTRINA (c1525-1592)*
Stabat mater
Alessandro STRIGGIO (c1540-1592)*
Ecce beatem lucem
Thomas TALLIS (1505-1585)
Spem in alium
Gary Cooper, organ
La Maitrise Nationale de Versailles
The Choir of New College Oxford
Directed by Edward Higginbotham and Michel-Marc Gervais *
Recorded L’Abbeye Cistercienne de Valloires March 1991
K617010 [56.35]

K617 are making something of a speciality of cultural cross-pollination. I recently listened to some Gregorian chant sung by choir members drawn from Estonia, France and Luxembourg and the stylistic disparities and confluences added to the creative frisson of the disc. Now here is another example in which Edward Higginbotham and his French counterpart, Michel-Marc Gervais, direct a choir drawn from New College Oxford and La Maitrise Nationale de Versailles, a famous but long inactive choir that Higginbotham has also helped revive. Together they perform polyphonic music of the sixteenth century, much of it amongst the greatest music of the age. In his apologia pro musica sua Higginbotham notes that the forty voice motets (of, here, Striggio and Tallis) require larger forces than can be met by one choir but he also concedes that the affinities and distinctiveness of the two schools, the English and the French, could be elided and juxtaposed to musical advantage. He cites the clarity of the English voices and the fullness of the deeper notes of French singers. In that sense his Pan-Europeanism is analogous to that other disc’s Pax Christiana – a symbiosis to mutually beneficial effect.

Most palpable is the sense of tonal depth and flexibility of the choir. Comparison with, say, the Tallis Scholars’ performance of Spem in alium reveals something of an aesthetic gulf between them. The Tallis Scholars performance is of almost remorseless clarity, each line and strand delineated with tremendous precision whereas Higginbotham here encourages and receives a more blended, tonally rich sound – not luxuriant but expressively plangent. My own preference is for a fuller and richer sound but admirers of the more austere approach will doubtless point to the potential for polyphonic congestion, which is seldom a concern to the Tallis Scholars, but which does occasionally visit this disc. It’s especially instructive, though, to hear the Tallis prefaced by Striggio’s forty-part Ecce beatem lucem, putatively the work that provoked Tallis’ own effort. The distance between them is that between competence and greatness. Admirable too is the roll call of sixteenth century polyphonists and the singing of, especially, Lassus’ Salve regina and Palestrina’s inexhaustible Stabat mater. The sound is generously enveloping without clouding the strands of the lines but something has gone wrong with the booklet notes. Whereas the musical Entente Cordiale may be flourishing the notes are a return to the bad old days. The composer profiles seem to have been subjected to a Yahoo translation service – watch out.

Jonathan Woolf

 



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