Gregorio Allegri (1582-1652): Christus resurgens ex mortuis

Allegri’s setting of the Easter motet Christus resurgens ex mortuis (Christ, rising from the Dead) takes its text from Romans 6:9-10 & 4:25. In his introduction to the recording from which this performance is taken Harry Christophers makes the point that "Allegri is one of those composers whose reputation and renown rests on a single…

John Taverner (±1490–1545): Audivi vocem de caelo

Taverner’s setting of this responsory takes its text from Matthew 25: 4-6. At first sight it’s a standard alternatim setting in which the chant alternates with polyphony in which it can also be heard as a cantus firmus but its original scoring is somewhat unusual in that it was originally scored for high voices only…

William Mundy (±1529-1591): Evening Canticles

Mundy is one of those Tudor composers about whom we know almost nothing. His career spanned the entirety of the English reformation, the Henrician overthrow of the Catholic church, the Edwardian intensification of reform, the Marian reaction, and Elizabeth II’s re-entrenchment of the Anglican church, Mundy saw them all. His contemporaries thought very well of…

An introduction to Genesis Sixteen

"Genesis Sixteen has become an integral part of what The Sixteen does and the quality of young singers remains incredibly high.  We want to recruit from the widest possible geographical and social backgrounds to help secure a vibrant future for choral singing in this country.  We are, as always, indebted to The Genesis Foundation for…

John Sheppard (±1515-1558): Æterne Rex altissime

The hymn Aeterne Rex altissime (Eternal king most high) is rather more than a thousand years old. It was first cited by the Saxon monk, theologian and poet  Gottschalk of Orbais (808 AD -867 AD) and included the 9th-century New Hymnal.  Sheppard’s setting would have been intended to be sung at Vespers on Ascension Day,…

Felice Anerio (±1560-1614): Regina caeli laetare (a8)

Anerio’s eight part setting of this Marian Antiphons is a perfect example why his contemporaries considered him to be a worthy successor to Palestrina as official Papal composer. It combines beautiful flowing polyphony combined with homophonic passages and shifts in timing. As you might expect from Palestrina’s successor the textual clarity is impeccable throughout. Enjoy…

Robert Ramsey (fl c1612-1644): In monte Oliveti

Ramsey’s madrigal-anthem probably dates from around 1615 and was written for private devotions rather than the liturgy. It’s a six-part setting that with its harmonic tensions, repetitions, and use of declamation and and dissonance can sound surprisingly modern to our ears. Enjoy :-). mfi

Documentary: God’s Composer Tomás Luis Victoria

One of the series of "Sacred Music" documentaries with Simon Beale shown on the BBC. This one explores the life and music Tomás Luis de Victoria. One of the greatest choral composers of the Renaissance, Victoria devoted his life to the church and his music is profoundly spiritual. Interwoven with Victoria’s music, this documentary follows…

Robert Ramsey (fl c1612-1644): When David heard

Ramsey was probably born at some time during the 1590s but the first reliable record we have of him is at Cambridge from 1612. He seems to have spent his entire adult life at Cambridge taking a B.Mus in 1616 and being appointed or­gan­ist at or­gan­ist of Tri­n­ity Col­lege, Cambrid­ge from 1628 until his death…

Walter Lambe (±1450 – ±1500): Stella cæli

Lambe’s contemporaries considered him to  be an important composer his music is heavily represented in the Eton Choirbook we don’t know much about his career he’s most likely the Walter Lambe who was elected scholar of Eton College on 8 July 1467, and who moved to Arundel to take up a clerkship in the collegiate…

Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611): Magnificat Sexti toni

Victoria published no less than eighteen Magnificat settings which range from sumptuous polychoral antiphonal works such as this triple choir (SATB + SSABar + SATB) setting to the restrained and elegant four-part setting. I mention the four part setting because both the opening verse and ‘Deposuit potentes’ are taken directly from that setting which was…