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Cæli Porta: ‘Gateway of heaven and star of the sea’
Manuel Leitão de Aviles (d. 1630) Non est inventus [2:11]
Pedro de :Cristo (c. 1550-1618) Dixit Dominus [2:59]
Diego da :Conceição (17th century) Meio Registo de 2o Tom Accidental (organ) [3:02]
Manuel Leitão de Aviles In jejunio et fletu [1:52]
Lamentations [4:38]
Manuel Rodrigues :Coelho (c.1555-c.1635) Primeiro Kyrio do Primeiro Tom por C Sol Fa Ut (organ) [1:19]
Joan de :Avila (fl. c. 1600) Circumdederunt me [3:35]
Pedro de :Cristo Laudate pueri [5:01]
Duarte :Lobo (c.1565-1646) Missa de beata virgine Maria : Kyrie [3:42]; Gloria [4:16]; Credo [6:44]
Manuel Rodrigues :Coelho Verso do 6o tom (organ) [0:50]
Duarte :Lobo Missa de beata virgine Maria: Sanctus [1:53]; Benedictus [1:17]; Agnus Dei [2:44]
Manuel Rodrigues :Coelho Magnificat: Versos do Quarto Tom (organ), with chant & fabordão [7:08]; Nunc dimittis: Verso do Sétimo Tom para se cantar ao órgão [2:53]
Pedro de :CristoVersicle & response: Dominus vobiscum / Et cum spiritu tuo [0:21]
Aires :Fernandez (fl. c.1550) Benedicamus Domino [1:10]
Duarte :Lobo Alma redemptoris mater
Choir of the Queen’s College, Oxford/Owen Rees
Carlotte Philips (organ)
rec. Chapel of The Queen’s College, Oxford, 18–19 April 2007, 21–22 February 2008, 7 June 2008. DDD.
Booklet with texts and translations.
GUILD GMCD7323 [60:32]
Experience Classicsonline


 

Queen’s College Choir on their recordings for Guild are making themselves a force to be reckoned with. John Quinn warmly recommended their Eastertide CD (Christ Rising, GMCD7222 – see review), Michael Cookson was most impressed with their recording of music for Ascensiontide, Pentecost and Trinity (Come, Holy Spirit, GMCD7276 – see review) and Glyn Pursglove thought their most recent recording, Paradisi Portas, highly competent (GMCD7296 – see review). Like Paradisi Portas, the new CD presents Iberian music from the 17th-century, mostly by Portuguese composers, though some of these worked in Southern Spain, chiefly in Granada.

Wisely, Queen’s have decided on both occasions not to go head to head with other performers. On the earlier CD the main work was Duarte Lobo’s Missa Paradisi Portas. The centre piece of this new recording is also a mass, Missa de beata virgine Maria, by Duarte Lôbo (not to be confused with Alonso Lobo); neither work, to the best of my knowledge, has otherwise been recorded, though there are several good versions of his 6- and 8-part Requiems. Neglect is never sufficient evidence to judge any music; readers must be tired by now of my referring to neglected masterpieces. The Lôbo mass here may not quite be that, but it is still a very fine work and well worth performing – and hearing.

Unlike their neighbours at New College and Christ Church, who still employ boy trebles, Queen’s now have a mixed choir. I yield to no-one in my love of the traditional treble sound and I have been very pleased recently to remind myself what a wonderful sound the New College and Christ Church choristers are still capable of producing. I’m planning to feature in my February, 2009, Download Roundup a number of recent recordings by New College Choir under the direction of Edward Higginbottom which can be thoroughly recommended:
 

Nicholas Ludford (c.1485-1587): Missa Benedicta and Votive Antiphons, K617 (K617206) – the pick of the bunch.

William Byrd (1543-1623) Cantiones Sacræ (1575) CRD (CRD3492)

William Byrd Cantiones Sacræ (1589) (CRD3420)

Thomas Tomkins (1572-1656) The Third Service, Anthems and Voluntaries, (CRD3467)

Henry Purcell (1659-95) The ‘Bell’ Anthem and other Verse Anthems (CRD3504) – a splendid choice for anyone not wishing to run to the complete New College/King’s Consort set on Hyperion.

William Croft (1678-1727) Select Anthems (CRD3491)

 

All these and many other recommendable K617 and CRD recordings are available as downloads from eMusic.

Nevertheless, like my colleagues in their response to earlier CDs, I was more than satisfied with the singing of Queen’s mixed choir. Alongside the New College recordings of the Byrd Cantiones Sacræ mentioned above, I also recommend a CD of music from his 1589 and 1591 collections, performed by the Choir of Trinity College Cambridge under Richard Marlow (Chandos CHAN0733). Like Queen’s, Trinity has had a mixed choir for some time and both manage more than to hold up their heads against the more traditional competition. The essence of polyphony is that it should sound uplifting and the performances from both mixed choirs achieve that in large measure.

That they do so is due in no small measure to the combination of scholarship and musicianship of their respective musical directors. The full and informative notes by Owen Rees in the booklet of the new CD, together with the fact that he has edited most of the music would be more than enough to establish his scholarship – check the notes out for yourself on the Guild website – while the performances are more than sufficient to demonstrate his ability to present the wonderful polyphonic music of this period for a modern audience.

Nor must I forget the important contributions of Charlotte Philips, former Senior Organ Scholar, who contributes the organ solos and Tom Wilkinson and Benedict Lewis-Smith, Organ Scholars.

The shorter works are all well worth hearing; the Coelho Nunc Dimittis (track 17) especially attracted my attention, with high parts almost to rival the Allegri Miserere, and it is splendidly sung here. The CD overall may be recommended with the same enthusiasm that my colleagues have shown for the earlier recordings.

I would, however, recommend another recording, by the William Byrd Choir, of Duarte Lôbo and Filipe de Magalhães in preference, since it contains Lôbo’s better-known 8-part Requiem and comes at budget price (Masterpieces of Portuguese Polyphony, Hyperion Helios CDH55138 – see review) but that recording will almost certainly whet your appetite for more, and the new recording will then become an almost mandatory follow-up.

There is also an excellent version of Lôbo’s 6-part Requiem sung by the Tallis Scholars on Gimell CDGIM205, a 2-for-1 set with the Cardoso and Victoria Requiems. Please note that this is Lôbo’s 6-part Requiem, not the 8-part as I erroneously stated in my review of the Helios CD – look out for further details in my February, 2009, Download Roundup. I also intend to atone for my error by posting a full review of CDGIM205 and CDGIM028 (an alternative coupling of the 6-part Lôbo Requiem with his Missa Vox clamantis).

The recording is very good and the presentation, as I have indicated, scholarly and informative yet readable. The cover illustration of the Annunciation and Visitation from the windows in the college chapel is not quite as eye-catching as those of earlier volumes, though attractive enough. Were it not for the very strong competition, I should be favouring this new recording with even greater enthusiasm.
 
Brian Wilson
 

 

 


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