Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett



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CD 1 [78.11]
Ambrosian and Gregorian Chant for the Feast of the Epiphany

Halleluiah (Puer Natus Est) [5.10]
Symbolum (Credimus in Unum Deum) [3.25]
XIth Century French Polyphony: Easter Mass

Trope: Paschale Carmen - Introit: Resurrexit [5.40]
Gradual: Haec Dies [3.23]
Organum: Alleluia V, Pascha Nostrum V, Epulemur [4.33]
Antiphon: Ego sum Alpha et Omega [3.45]
Office for the New Year at Puy-en-Velay Cathedral (XIIth century)

Veni Redemptor Gancium [4.37]
Pater Noster [1.53]
Pierre ABELARD (1079-1142)

O Quanta Qualita, motet [7.47]
PEROTIN (c. 1200)

Alleluia Posus Adjutorium [9.24]
Llibre Vermell de Montserrat (XIVth century)

O Virgo Splendens Hic in Monte Celso [3.57]
Mariam Mater Virginem [7.18]
Guillaume DE MACHAUT (c. 1300-1377)
Messe De Notre Dame

Kyrie [5.12]
Gloria [4.01]
Sanctus and Benedictus [4.30]
Agnus Dei [3.05]

CD 2 [76.03]
John DUNSTABLE (c. 1390-1443)

Veni Sancte Spiritus [6.24]
Guillaume DUFAY (1400-1474)

Nuper Rosarum Flores [6.45]
Johannes OCKEGHEM (c. 1410-1497)

Alma Redemptoris Mater [5.43]
Josquin DES PREZ (c. 1440-1521)

Pater Noster [7.35]
Orlando de LASSUS (1532?-1594)

Resonet in Laudibus [3.15]
Giovanni Perluigi da PALESTRINA (c. 1525-1594)

The Song of Songs: Pulchra es Amica Mea [2.37]
Ave Maria [3.27]
Heinrich SCHÜTZ (1585-1672)

Jauchzet Dem Herren Alle Welt SWV493 [7.34]
Gregorio ALLEGRI (1582-1652)

Miserere [12.54]
Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643)

Selva Morale e Spirituali (1640): Beatus Vir [8.54]
Thomas TALLIS (c. 1505-1585)

Spem in Alium [10.17]

CD3 [79.01]
Marc-Antoine CHARPENTIER (1643-1704)

Te Deum:
Pré lude [1.51]
Te Deum Laudamus [1.28]
Te Aeternum Patrem [1.43]
Pleni Sunt Coeli et Terra [2.10]
Messe de Minuit:
Kyrie [6.25]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)

Gloria in D:
Gloria in Excelsis [2.25]
Et in Terra Pax [4.46]
Henry DU MONT (1668-1733)

Nisi Dominus (verse 1) [2.32]
André CAMPRA (1660-1744)

Tum Acceptaberis (verse 20 of the Miserere) [2.34]
Louis CLÉRAMBAULT (1676-1749)

Justificeris Domino [0.31]
Miserere Mei Deus [3.57]
Franç ois COUPERIN (1668-1733)

Tabascere Me Fecit [3.56]
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764)

In Convertendo, Dominus:
In Convertendo [3.09]
Tunc Repletum est Gaudio [3.06]
Magnificat Dominus Facere Nobiscum [3.41]
Giovanni Battista PERGOLESI (1710-1736)

Stabat Mater:
Stabat Mater Dolorosa [4.39]
Vidit Suum Dulcem Natum [3.20]
Eja Mater Fons Amoris [2.08]
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)

Dixit Dominus [5.18]
Halleluiah [4.20]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Jesu Bleibet Meine Freude BWV147 [2.12]
Mass in B Minor:
Qui Sedes ad Dexteram Patris [4.26]
St John Passion:
Ruht Wohl, Ihr Heiligen Gebeine [8.03]

CD4 [78.04]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Requiem K.626:
Requiem Aeternam [4.01]
Kyrie Eleison [2.13]
Lacrimosa [3.35]
Ave Verum Corpus K.618 [2.36]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Hymn to the Holy Ghost D.964 [7.20]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Missa Solemnis Op..123:
Agnus Dei [6.11]
Luigi CHERUBINI (1760-1842)

Requiem in Memory of Louis XVI:
Introit and Kyrie [7.17]
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)

Stabat Mater:
Inflammatus et Accensus [4.17]
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)

Wie Der Hirsch Schreiet Nach Frischen Wasser [5.50]
Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893)

Messe Solennelle de Sainte Cécile:
Domine Salvum [3.32]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)

A German Requiem:
Ihr Habt Nun Traurigkeit [6.22]
Guiseppe VERDI (1813-1901)

Messa da Requiem:
Dies Irae [2.15]
Lux Aeterna [6.17]
César FRANCK (1822-1890)

Devant la Loi Nouvelle [4.15]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)

Pie Jesu [3.24]
Libera Me [4.33]
In Paradisum [3.33]

CD 5 [74.15]
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)

Vespers Op.37:
Nunc Dimittis [3.29]
Ave Maria [2.38]
Samuel BARBER (1910-1981)

Angus Dei [7.42]
Francis POULENC (1899-1963)

Quatre Motets Pour le Temps de Noë l
O Magnum Mysterium [3.21]
Quem Vidistis Pastores Dicite [2.37]
Videntes Stellam [3.10]
Hodie Christus Natus Est [2.04]
Maurice DURUFLÉ (190-1986)

Requiem Op.9:
Kyrie [3.31]
Pie Jesu [3.26]
Libera Me [5.37]
In Paradisum [2.44]
Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992)

O Sacrum Convivium [5.04]
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)

A Shepherd's Carol [4.06]
Igor STAVINSKY (1882-1971)

Credo [2.54]
Krzystof PENDERECKI (b.1933)

Ave Maria [7.00]
Henryk GORECKI (b.1933)

Totus Tuus [8.50]
Arvo PÄRT (b.1935)

De Profundis [5.27]
Various Artists including:
Schola Cantorum Coloniensis/Harald Scloßmacher
Ensemble Gilles Binchois/Dominique Vellard
Studio der Frühen Musik/Thomas Binkley
Hespérion XX/Jordi Savall
Taverner Consort, Choir and Players/Andrew Parrott
The Hilliard Ensemble/Paul Hillier
The King's Singers
The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge/Timothy Brown
Knabenchor Hannover / London Baroque/Heinz Hennig
The Choir of King's College, Cambridge/Stephen Cleobury
Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields/Neville Marriner
English Chamber Orchestra/David Willcocks
Les Pages de la Chapelle / Musica Aeterna Orchestra of Bratislava/Olivier Schneebeli
La Grande Ecurie et la Chambre du Roy/Jean-Claude Malgoire
Les Demoiselles de Saint-Cyr/Emmanuel Mandrin
Les Talons Lyrique/Christoph Rousset
Le Concert Spirituel/Hervé Niquet
Il Seminario Musicale/Gérard Lesne
Schütz Choir / London Classical Players/Roger Norrington
Capella Bavariae / Symphony Orchestra of Bavarian Radio/Wolfgang Sawallisch
Tallis Chamber Choir / English Chamber Orchestra/Jeffrey Tate
Ambrosian Singers / Philharmonia Orchestra/Ricardo Muti
Chorus and Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino/Ricardo Muti
London Symphony Chorus / City of London Sinfonia/Richard Hickox
Choeurs et Nouvel Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio-France/Georges Prê tre
Orféon Donostiarra / Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse/Michel Plasson
Winchester Cathedral Choir / Bournemouth Sinfonietta/David Hill
Swedish Radio Choir/Tö no Kaljuste
The Sixteen/Harry Christophers
London Sinfonietta Voices and Chorus- Terry Edwards
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir/Tö no Kaljuste
rec. various dates between 1967 and 1998.
VIRGIN CLASSICS 7243 5 62126 2 6 [78.11+76.03+79.01+78.04+74.15]

What is the point of compilations? Too often, it seems, they are a way for record companies to repackage bits of the back-catalogue and sell them several times over. At other times they come across as being a way for people with no knowledge of serious music to own the 'famous tunes' or 'all-the-twiddly-bits' from some well-known works, thereby ensuring that they never have to listen to the whole work or do any actual thinking for themselves. This is a cynical view, but it does tend to be the view of people who are seriously interested in recordings. It is, presumably a view that Virgin were aware of before they embarked on the compilation of this extensive set of sacred music recordings. The title "1000 years of Sacred Music" avoids aiming low with the all-too-frequent "1000-Best-Sacred-Tunes-Ever-In-the-World-Ever-Volume 330" and is actually an accurate description of the contents, ranging as they do from Ambrosian chant of no later than the 10th century up to Gorecki's Totus Tuus written for the current Pope's first return visit to Warsaw in 1987. As with all compilations the selected works do tend to be the famous examples of their respective genres, but as an overview of Sacred music, it would be hard to do otherwise. Further, it is obvious that those famous examples do contain some of the most glorious musical outpourings of the human soul, if that is not too pretentious a sentiment.

The policy for this compilation appears to have been selecting complete works wherever possible and sizeable excerpts where length precludes use of the entire piece. On the whole, this policy is sensible, but it does favour the earlier (up to the renaissance) repertoire, and that of the twentieth century rather more than is possible with the classical or, especially, romantic repertoire. Curiously, this same period of 18th and 19th century music is where the recordings chosen are weakest. Someone at Virgin has it in for poor Marc-Antoine Charpentier; the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and English Chamber Orchestra performances of his great Te Deum and bits of the lovely Messe de Minuit are now so old fashioned and stodgy as to be painful to listen to. Similarly, the choir of Kings College, Cambridge, with the former orchestra under David Willcocks, was fine in the late 1960s, but their leaden Hallelujah chorus from Messiah is not an enjoyable offering by today’s standards.

On the other hand some of the renaissance and 20th century recordings are worth having in any format. The Quatre Motets pour le temps de Noë l by Poulenc are included entire in a wonderful performance by The Sixteen under Harry Christophers. Blended, luminous and moving singing. The last four works of the fifth and last disc (together making a good 25" of singing) gather possibly the most influential quartet of late twentieth century choral classics in one place. These performances, by Kings Cambridge under Stephen Cleobury and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir are exciting and powerful performances. The latter group is here directed by Tönu Kaljuste, who also steers the Swedish Radio Chorus most impressively through two movements of Rachmaninov's great All Night Vigil, better known as the Vespers. The performance makes this writer want to buy the complete recording, and maybe that is another positive aspect of compilations. One would normally discount all but Russian groups singing such a work, but these Swedes disprove that notion.

In the early repertoire there is also much of value and the distribution of repertoire into periods covering a whole disc each negates much of the 'bleeding chunks' feel that is normally so unfortunate an aspect of compilations. The earliest repertoire, on disc 1, is not necessarily well known, but the performances, after some pretty dodgy chanting on the opening tracks (an unfortunate choice) are by groups who are true specialists. The vast Alleluia Posuis Adjutorium by Perotin (taking a full 9'24") is swept grandly on by the Studio der frühen Musik under Thomas Binkley. This group was hugely influential in the late 1970s and 1980s and their recordings of this very early repertoire still take a lot of beating. On the second disc a couple of large motets by Ockeghem and Josquin are performed by the Hilliard Ensemble, and this writer firmly believes that there is not a better group yet. Disc 2 ends with a complete Tallis Spem in Alium - the famous motet in 40 parts and, again, the choice of performance by Andrew Parrott and the Taverner Consort is a wise one. Theirs has always been one of the best engineered recordings of this notoriously hard-to-capture giant.

The middle two discs, of Baroque to Romantic music include, as mentioned above, a number of unfortunately dated performances and suffer from the greater frequency of bleeding chunks. There is also a somewhat oppressive obsession with settings of the Requiem Mass. Mozart, Cherubini, Brahms, Verdi, Fauré and Duruflé get the ‘final farewell’ interspersed between sombre offerings from the Beethoven Missa Solemnis, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, Gounod’s Messe Solennelle and Rédemption by César Franck. It’s all a bit too religious at once, and could easily have been leavened by a few festive motets or the odd Gloria of a mass, rather than another Agnus Dei. There is, however, a quintet of short treats amongst the baroque offerings - unknown or little known works of the French Baroque by Henry Du Mont, André Campra, Louis Clérambault, Franç ois Couperin and Jean-Philippe Rameau in lively period instrument performances. Placed one after another they make an attractive group.

So much for the discs themselves. This collection has one big ace up its sleeve that does move it from the ‘can’t-be-bothered-with-the-whole-work’ school of compilations to the ‘scholarly-overview’ format: a 26 page booklet essay in 13 chapters and an extensive glossary of technical terms. This is the work of one Adélaï de de Place, translated by Hugh Graham. It is rare to see a CD booklet given this much importance in the project and the quality and presentation are both excellent. It reminds one of the old ‘Historical Anthology of Music’ records from the 1950s in presenting a true overview and placing the musical works into a clear historical perspective. None of the chapters is overly long, but they cover areas as diverse as "Oral transmission and birth of ‘Gregorian’ Chant"; "The Italian Renaissance"; "From Polyphony to the Grand Motet of Versailles"; "Germany, from Schütz to Bach" ending with "The Twentieth Century". Thus the booklet takes a slightly different methodological approach to the discs, dividing principally by geographical or, in the era covering the reformation, denominational regions. The whole essay is written as a self standing unit, not making direct reference to the works on the CDs, and thus the relationship is inverted - the discs serve to illustrate the booklet, not the other way around. This was Virgin’s wisest move. While not all of the recordings are particularly desirable, the set as a whole has much to offer, and for any student of Western music, of whatever age, will be a valuable resource in developing understanding of traditions.

Peter Wells

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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