Bargain of the Month

Tudor Anthems and Motets
Orlando GIBBONS (1583-1625) Hosanna to the Son of David [2:48]
Thomas MUDD (1559/60 Ė ca 1619) Let thy merciful ears [1:35]
Richard FARRANT (1525-1580) Call to remembrance [2:08]; Lord for thy tender mercyís sake [2:25]
Orlando GIBBONS O Lord, in thy wrath [3:48]
Thomas TALLIS (1505-1585) Salvator mundi [3:21]
William BYRD (1543-1623) Haec dies [2:12]
Thomas TOMKINS (1572-1656) When David heard [5:35]
William BYRD Ave verum corpus [4:29]
Richard DERING (1580-1630) Factum est silentium [2:40]
Peter PHILIPS (1560-1628) Ascendit Deus [2:24]
Thomas TALLIS If ye love me [2:17]
Robert PARSONS (1530-1570) Ave Maria [5:49]
John SHEPPARD (1515-1559) Libera nos [3:11]
Thomas WEELKES (1576-1623) O Lord, arise [2:59]
William BYRD O Lux Beata [5:22]; Miserere Mei [2:35]
Thomas WEELKES Hosanna to the Son of David [1:55]
William BYRD O Lord, give ear [3:00]

Robert WHITE The Lord Bless Us [4:23]
William BYRD Sing joyfully [2:41]
The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge/Timothy Brown
rec. June 1991 and June 1993. Venue not specified
HERITAGE HTGCD 216 [67:32]

The Choir of Clare College has, along with the choirs of Kingís, St. Johnís, and Trinity Colleges, established itself firmly as one of the four leading collegiate choirs in Cambridge. This is to such an extent that it comes as something of a surprise to find that the mixed voice choir was only established forty years ago, in 1971. In that time itís had only four Directors, one of whom was John Rutter, and the longest serving by some distance, was Timothy Brown, who was in charge of the choir from 1979 to 2010. These recordings from the early 1990s offer an excellent example of his fine work with the choir.

As the track-listing shows, this anthology contains some of the plums of the Tudor sacred repertoire. The entire programme is beautifully executed. The choral singing is unfailingly pleasing Ė the young sopranos consistently sound bright and pure in tone. Though the voices are young thereís no immaturity to them: the lower parts are suitably firm and well focused. Timothy Brown obtains a marvellously integrated and expertly balanced sound from his choir, who have been well recorded in a pleasingly resonant acoustic.

Much of the music is contemplative in nature but the singing of the more spirited items, such as Gibbonsí Hosanna to the Son of David, Ascendit Deus by Peter Phillips and Byrdís Haec Dies and Sing joyfully, is suitably spirited.

That said, itís the more reflective pieces that especially impressed me. The account Robert Parsonís wonderful Ave Maria is outstanding, the ĎAmení rising to a wonderfully warm conclusion. No less successful is the deeply affecting When David heard of Tomkins, surely one of the most eloquent of all Tudor anthems. I also admired the little gem that is Tallisís If ye love me and Byrdís rapt Ave verum corpus.

Truth to tell, itís almost invidious to single out individual pieces. The entire programme is deeply satisfying and provides an excellent introduction to the treasure chest of Tudor sacred music. But more seasoned collectors of this repertoire also will find much to enjoy in this collection. The booklet is pretty basic but notwithstanding that, this is a most desirable disc.

John Quinn

A most desirable disc that provides an excellent introduction to the treasure chest of Tudor sacred music.