Samples & Downloads
Peter PHILIPS (1560/61
Christus resurgens (1612) [3.45]
Disciplinam et sapientiam (1612) [2.27]
Loquebantur variis linquis (1612) [2.51]
Ne reminiscaris, Domine (1612) [2.52]
Gabriel Angelus apparuit (1612) [3.07]
Viae Sion lugent (1612) [3.13]
Ave Jesu Christe (1613) [3.53]
Pater Noster (1612) [3.40]
Beata Agnes (1612) [4.09]
Elegerunt Apostoli (1612) [3.21]
Media Vita (1612) [3.40]
Ave Regina caelorum (1613) [3.38]
Ave gratia plena (1612) [3.00]
Ecce vicit Leo (1613) [3.50]
Ne timeas Maria (1612) [1.53]
Gaude Maria virgo (1612) [3.07]
Virgo prudentissima (1612) [3.34]
Cum jucunditate (1612) [2.51]
Salve regina (1612) [2.51]
Eia ergo (1612) [3.07]
The Sarum Consort (Olivia Robinson, Clare Reeder, Deborah Mackay,
Alison Bullock, Adrian Kelly, Colin Howard, Richard Brett, Aidan
Oliver)/Andrew Mackay; Nigel Gardner (organ)
rec. Wardour Chapel, Tisbury, Wiltshire, 28-30 August 2000
NAXOS 8.572832 [65.08]
Peter Philips achieved great fame in his lifetime. William Byrd
was the only English composer to have a greater number of works
published. We know relatively little about him and his works
have not attained the prominence of Byrd’s. Both composers
were Catholic, but Philips achieved no sort of accommodation
with the English authorities. Instead he left England and ended
up in Rome, where he came into contact with Anerio and Palestrina.
Entering the service of Lord Thomas Paget, another English Catholic
refugee, the two travelled Europe until, on Paget’s death,
Philips came to rest in Antwerp. There he married, taught and
developed a relationship with an influential publisher.
His Cantiones Sacrae Quinis Vocibus, a collection of
69 motets, was published in 1612 and Cantiones Sacrae Octonibus
Vocibus, a collection of 38 motets, was published in 1613.
Though Philips has had some distinguished editors in the 20th
century, his music does not seem to have had the wider availability
accorded to that of Byrd. This is a shame, because Philips’
motets are delightfully fascinating, with a careful intertwining
of parts making these works both interesting and tricky.
Naxos have issued a collection of Philips motets before. On
this disc the Sarum Concert, under director Andrew Mackay, sing
one to a part in the case of some of the motets with a discreet
organ accompaniment. The five-part motets - generally scored
for two sopranos, alto, tenor and bass - are sung by Olivia
Robinson and Clare Reeder, sopranos, Deborah Mackay, alto, Adrian
Kelly, tenor and Richard Brett, bass; with Aidan Oliver providing
the second bass part in the motets scored SATBB.
They open with the Easter motet, Christus resurgens and
finish with the double Marian antiphon, Salve Regina
and Eia ergo. Along the way the programme is varied without
any particular liturgical theme. The eight-part motets, Ave
Jesu Christe, Ave Regina Caelorum, Ecce vicit
Leo punctuate the programme and provide some interesting
contrasts in texture. The remaining five-part motets generally
use two soprano parts with just Pater Noster and Media
vita using two bass parts.
The performers use just one voice to a part. Their performances
are technically very adept, with the singers secure in their
tuning. They form a flexible ensemble, without overly blended
homogeneity, keeping recognisably fine lines. There is much
to admire on this disc, very much; such technical security and
finely modulated line is no mean feat.
All of that said, I have to admit, that though I wanted to like
the performances, I didn’t find them as appealing as I
would have wished. In the five-part motets, the relative balance
between the voices rather favours the sopranos. After an entire
disc I rather worried that on repeated listening, this could
become wearying. Also, the two interior voices are slightly
under-powered at times.
In style, the performances are understated and nicely modulated.
They rather underplay the rhythmic delights. Occasionally, as
in Ecce vicit Leo the polychoral banter is done in a
rhythmically vital way, but too often the rhythmic interest
has some of the vitality ironed out of it. Perhaps many listeners
will not find this a problem, but having sung a number of Philips
motets myself, it is the very contrast in textures that I relish.
The Sarum Consort seems more concerned to keep the textures
homogeneous. The motets where Philips sets the text homophonically
work well in this treatment. One final moan: I would have liked
the singers to have made more of the texts.
The Consort recorded a first disc of Philips motets in 1999,
which was released on the Gaudeamus label. This disc was recorded
in 2000 and seems to have sat on the shelf for quite a while
before being issued on Naxos.
Despite my moans, there is much to admire and perhaps even love
in this disc, not least the repertoire and the singers’
bravery in performing it one to a part. The performances don’t
quite succeed, for all the artists’ technical confidence.
Even so, I will certainly be playing the disc again.