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CHAN 5066
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CHAN 5066

Phoenix Bach Choir - Spotless Rose: Hymns to the Virgin Mary

The Classical Shop
release date: September 2008

Originally recorded in 2007


Charles Bruffy

Phoenix Chorale


Camelback Bible Church, Paradise Valley, Arizona, USA


Blanton Alspaugh


John Newton

Record Label



Total Time - 53:33
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(b. 1949)

Splendid Jewel

  For Jordan Sramek and The Rose Ensemble  
  Jill LeSeur-Chipman soprano  
  Crotchet=96 - Crotchet=112 - Temp I (Crotchet=96)  



A Hymn to the Virgin

  Kira Rugen soprano - Amy Perciballi alto  
  Robert Comeaux tenor - David Topping bass  
  Andante lento - Più anmato - Tempo I più tranquillo - Molto più lento  


(b. 1951)

Three Latin Motets

3 1 Ave, Regina. Andante espressivo e teneramente - Meno mosso 3:36
4 2 Ave, Maria. Andante sostenuto e espressivo - Allargando 2:57
5 3 Regina caeli. Adagio maestoso - Allegro spiritoso - Adagio maestoso 2:28



A Spotless Rose

  Carol-anthem (for use at Christmastide)  
  To my Mother  
  Jacob Herbert baritone  
  With easeful movement  


(b. 1949)

Two Marian Pieces

  Cassandra Ewer soprano - Carol Platt Proudfoot soprano  
7 Ave, maris stella (To Carl Høgset and his chorus Grex Vocalis, on their tenth anniversary)* 4:36
  Espressivo - Tranquillo - Espressivo - Deciso - Espressivo  
8 Ave, Maria. Adagio, dolce 2:31



Three Liturgical Motets

9 Fair in face. Allegretto cantabile - Poco meno mosso 2:01
10 I beheld her, beautiful as a dove. Divoto - Poco più mosso - A tempo I 2:09
11 Rise up, my love, my fair one. In free rhythm 1:58


(b. 1939)
premiere recording


  For the Kansas City Chorale, Charles Bruffy, Conductor  
  Rebecca Lloyd soprano - Caroline Markham mezzo-soprano  
  Joel M. Rinsema tenor - Sonja Branch timpano, bass drum  
12 1 De profundis. Intensely - 3:37
13 2 Asperges me, Domine/Credo. Aggressively - Fervently - Heartfelt - Sweetly - The Pact 3:48
14 3 Ave, dulcissima Maria. Reverently - Fervently - Reverently 3:49
15 4 Magnificat anima mea. Dance-like - Intensely - Sombrely - Sweetly - 9:58
  Also available as SACD CHSA 5066

Stephen Paulus is one of America’s most prominent composers, recognised particularly for his empathetic vocal writing. In Splendid Jewel, based on a fourteenth-century lauda, Paulus imparts a mediaeval flavour to the setting of this ancient text, which he then warms with his own harmonic language. A Hymn to the Virgin is one of Britten’s earliest pieces, written in 1930 when Britten was not quite seventeen. Britten retained a warm feeling for this youthful piece, so much so that it was one of the pieces performed at his funeral. 

The English composer Cecilia McDowall is well known for her sensitive text setting. The ‘Ave Regina’ and the ‘Regina caeli’ are two of the four great Marian antiphons of the ancient Church and McDowall’s settings of them are here followed by a haunting Ave Maria for women’s voices. She is joined by another English composer, Herbert Howells, a composer famous for his choral music, and more especially for his sacred music. His setting of the fourteenth-century Marian text ‘A Spotless Rose’ dates from his mid-twenties, and is dedicated to his mother
The Liturgical Motets are among Healey Willan’s best-known pieces, and the three recorded here take their texts from Responsories from an eighth-century Office of Our Lady and from the Song of Solomon. Completing the SACD are works by Javier Busto and Jean Belmont Ford. Belmont Ford has long been a favourite of Charles Bruffy and his choirs, who are enthusiastic champions of her work. Electa, a commission by the Kansas City Chorale in 1995 and recorded here for the first time, draws on various liturgical texts to weave a tapestry of praise to the Virgin Mary. In his Ave, Maria and Ave maris stella, the latter a premiere recording, Busto sets the familiar ancient texts. 

                           Grammy Award Winner - Best Small Ensemble Performance

February 2009

Where has this fabulous choir been all my life? No choral strength you can name eludes them… Chandos’ usual lucid and unaffected notes, full texts and resplendent SACD-hybrid sound conspire with irresistible choral wizardry to make this an absolute must
American Record Guide on Shakespeare in Song

Charles Bruffy’s much talked-up Phoenix Chorale of Arizona contributes a CD of Marian anthems which new repertoire hounds should check out for Three Latin Motets by Cecilia MacDowall and Electra by a composer new to me, Jean Belmont Ford – choir, bass drum and single timpano combine atmospherically in contrasting setting of texts associated with Marian Theology.
Choir and Organ

The more I hear if the American Phoenix Chorale, the more I admire their work. Their English-leaning choral style, impinging on the territory of Polyphony or the Sixteen, feels absolutely right for this repertoire. Their peerlessly blended style makes for persuasive readings
BBC Music Magazine

Choral singing just doesn’t get much better than this. When it comes to purity of tone, daunting precision and superfine blend, Charles Bruffy’s remarkable Phoenix Chorale have it all – and then some!

Chandos’ recording is wholly sympathetic to both choir and repertoire, while Kathryn Parke’s booklet notes are full, detailed and engagingly written. Given the transcendent nature of the music and the performances, spiritual satisfaction is guaranteed, whatever your religious proclivities.
International Record Review

J Bailey

R Boggs