£16 post free World-wide

 


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


 


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

Search
What's New
Previous CDs
Concerts
Jazz
Nostalgia
Composers
Resources
Announce
Labels index


Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



CD REVIEW

Some items
to consider


Shostakovich 14 Petrenko


Rachmaninov #3
Prokofiev #2

 


Dunedin Consort

Peter Grimes

Hymn of Jesus: Sea Drift

Complete Mozart Edition
Mozart complete edition

Vaughan Williams Symphonies 5 & 8 £11

Weiner, Klepper, Bloch, Schulhoff £12 post free


Available again


Buy through MusicWeb for £12 postage paid World-wide.


Musicweb Purchase button

 


Christmas Chant: Traditional Latin Plainchant for Christmas
Sequence: Lætabundus [3:14]
Extracts from Matins:
Invitatory: Christus Natus Est. Psalm 94 (95) [9:38]
Hymn: Christe Redemptor (Melody from Ely MS) [3:28]
Antiphon: Dominus Dixit Psalm 2 [4:19]
Lesson: Isaiah 9 1-6 [3:11]
Responsory: Verbum Caro [5:22]
Marian Anthem: Alma Redemptoris Mater [1:57]
Mass Chants:
Introit: Dominus Dixit (Midnight Mass) [3:02]
Kyrie (Missa IV: Cunctipotens) [1:59]
Gloria [3:51]
Gradual: Omnes de Saba (Epiphany) [2:45]
Alleluia (Dawn Mass) [2:53]
Offertory: Lætentur (Midnight Mass) [1:20]
Sanctus [1:41]
Agnus Dei [1:20]
Communion: In Splendoribus (Midnight Mass) [0:49]
Short Hymns & Chants:
Hymn: Angelus ad Virginem [3:18]
Anthem: Ecce Nomen [1:13]
Antiphon: Quem Vidistis [0:48]
Antiphon: Angelus ad Pastores [0:47]
Antiphon: Hodie [1:08]
Recessional: Puer Natus [4:34]
The Monks of Prinknash Abbey; The Nuns of Stanbrook Abbey
rec. Prinknash Abbey, June, 1987. DDD.
Texts and translations included.
SAYDISC CD-SDL 369 [62:48]

Experience Classicsonline


I’m surprised to discover how many recordings of Christmas plainchant there are in the catalogue. Of these, two old favourites of mine, both on DG Archiv, cover similar ground to the present CD in that they are performed by monks who actually sing the plainchant offices regularly and all three present a liturgical sequence.

Actually, the DG recordings cover more ground than the Saydisc, in that one contains all twelve Matins responsories and the propers of the First (midnight), Second (dawn) and Third Masses of Christmas Day, sung by the monks of Montserrat and of the Benedictine Abbey of Münsterschwarzach, the latter directed by Father Godehard Joppich (2 lower-mid-price CDs, 459 4212). The Matins repsonsories and the Midnight Mass alone from this set are available separately on 477 8021. The other mid-price recording contains two of the Christmas Day Masses on a single CD (445 0462, Monks of the Benedictine Abbey, Beuron, directed by Father Marus Pfaff).

The Saydisc recording, on the other hand, offers excerpts from Matins and two of the three Christmas Masses, plus the Gradual of the Epiphany Mass and some short hymns and chants.
The Saydisc recording, therefore, is less consistent than the DG - the intrusion of the Gradual Omnes de Saba from the completely different feast of Epiphany (January 6th) breaks the Christmas sequence - but many who balk at the idea of two whole CDs of chant will prefer the mix-and-match-approach.

Some of the recordings of the Montserrat choir which I have heard have sounded less than secure, but such is not the case here; their version of the responsory Verbum caro factum est sounds slightly more robust than that on the Saydisc CD and their pace is a little faster than their English brethren, whose tone is lightened by the presence of the nuns’ choir; there isn’t a great deal in it, but I slightly prefer the livelier Spanish performance.

In the Introit from the Midnight Mass, Dominus Dixit, the Münsterschwarzach Monks, like those of Montserrat in the Mattins responsories, take the chant at a slightly faster pace than the Prinknash and Stanbrook singers - again, I think, marginally preferably for the average listener. Otherwise, in the items in common between the two recordings, honours are about even. If you want the complete Midnight and Dawn Masses, plus the third Mass, from which no items are included on Saydisc, you will have to go for the 2-CD DGG recording, especially as the Saydisc offers somewhat truncated versions of the Offertory Lætentur and the Communion In splendoribus (just 49 seconds of the latter).

The third version of the Midnight Mass, under Marius Pfaff’s direction, in an earlier incarnation, comes out for an annual airing every Christmas in our household. If I prefer it to both its rivals, that may be due to familiarity as much as anything: I’ve just expressed a marginal preference for the slightly faster pace of the Münsterschwarzach recording, so it seems illogical for me to prefer Pfaff’s slightly slower pace in the Introit: 3:20 against the Prinknash 3:02 and the Münsterschwarzach 2:45. The Beuron chant is at least as secure as that on the other two discs.

The Münsterschwarzach and Prinknash recordings both employ the Missa IV chant for the Kyrie and the other parts of the common of the Mass; the Beuron recording uses Missa IX. The Beuron recording also includes the Oratio or collect, Epistle and Gospel of the Mass. Be warned that the epistle tone in particular may not lend itself happily to 21st-century ears, which are likely to be used to more variety. On the other hand, if the appeal of plainchant for you lies in the very fact that it is not exciting, but peaceful and soothing, any one of these three recordings could be just right, but the Beuron recording could be the most right - 74 minutes of sheer tranquillity.

The reading from Isaiah on Saydisc employs a more varied form of chant, using a tone from the Worcester Antiphoner, a composite manuscript of liturgical books from the Benedictine Cathedral Priory of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Worcester, probably compiled in its present form in the fourteenth/fifteenth century, but with items much older than that.

The unique appeal of the Saydisc recording lies in the short hymns and antiphons which round off the programme. A single nun sings Angelus ad virginem, with short interjections from the nuns’ choir. The soloist’s voice is attractive and tonally secure, but this is a very different experience from hearing the piece sung, for example, by The Tallis Scholars on their 2-CD Christmas with the Tallis Scholars which I reviewed last year (CDGIM202 - see review). Which, of course, is not to say that one is better than the other; the Gimell is a more ‘finished’ product, part of a splendid collection whereas the Saydisc performance appeals through its simplicity - and it may well be closer to the sound that Chaucer imagined Nicholas the clerk making when he tells us in the Miller’s Tale that he sang it of an evening. (No accompaniment here, though; Nicholas accompanied himself on the psaltery.)

The Saydisc presentation is attractive and the notes are generally thorough and informative, though the apparent implication that the text of Psalm 94 (AV Psalm 95) is unique in being taken not from St Jerome’s Vulgate but from the earlier Old Latin translation is misleading: all the psalms in the Roman Breviary, not just this, come from Jerome’s earlier, very conservative recension of the Old Latin, translated not from the Hebrew but from the Greek Septuagint version, just as the Book of Common Prayer retained Coverdale’s version from Henry VIII’s Great Bible, even when the other texts were changed to follow the 1611 King James version. Most listeners will not immediately be able to identify the Worcester Antiphoner, stated in the notes as the source of the lesson tone for the reading from Isaiah, without further information. (See above.) Complete texts and good translations are included.

My own preference would be for a recording which alternates plainsong with monophonic or polyphonic music, as on the new Hyperion CD From the Vaults of Westminster Cathedral (CDA67707 - see my October, 2009, Download Roundup). I have to say that I find 63 minutes of chant a little wearing. If, however, you are looking for something fresh this Christmas, something untouched by any hint of professionalism or commercialism, soothing music, authentically performed and well recorded, this CD joins several other recommendable seasonal recordings from Saydisc and its sister label Amon Ra. The success of EMI’s Canto Gregoriano some years ago (still available on two lower-mid-price CDs, 5652172) suggests that that’s exactly what many listeners are attracted to. If you want more of the same, go for one or both of the DG recordings - perhaps even in addition to this Saydisc recording.

Brian Wilson 
 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
CDAccord
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.