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SIG 038
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SIG 038

Songs of Angels - Music from Magdalen College, Oxford

The Classical Shop
release date: July 2007

Originally recorded in 2007

Artists:

Bill Ives


Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford



Venue:

Magdalen College, Oxford

21-22 Mar 2002 (Tracks 1,4,6,9,10) & 1-3 Jul 2002 (tracks 2,3,5,7,8)

Producer:

David Skinner



Engineer:

Andrew Halifax



Record Label
Signum

Genre:

Early Music


Vocal & Song

Total Time - 73:01
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ANONYMOUS

1 

Vespers Hymn Collaudemus Magdalene lachrymas (Sarum plainchant)

3:45
 

RICHARD DAVY

2 

Stabat mater

15:10
 

JOHN MASON

3 

Quales sumus

11:34
 

JACQUET OF MANTUA

4 

Aspice, Domine

5:56
 

THOMAS PRESTON

5 

Resurrexi (III)

3:01
 

THOMAS APPLEBY

6 

Magnificat antophon Inclita sancte Marie Magdalene (Sarum plainchant)

14:49
 

THOMAS PRESTON

7 

Offertory Confessio et pulchritudo

4:11
 

JOHN SHEPPARD

8 

Dum transisset sabbatum

7:22
9 

The Lord's Prayer

4:11
10 

Libera nos

3:02


Signum Records is delighted to announce that the choir of Magdalen College Oxford will release their first disc with Signum in early 2003. Entitled The Songs of Angels  the disc will consist of repertoire written by the distinguished 15th and 16th century Magdalen Informator Choristarum

"The Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford here present us with a magnificent collection of music written for the College, including some very rarely-heard works by Appleby (whose Magnificat is, I think, somewhat under-rated by David Skinner in his informative booklet notes), Preston (for organ) and (a surprise!) Jacquet of Mantua.

This last figures in the list through a series of possibilities. What is certain is that Aspice Domine is found in the Peterhouse Partbooks, and it is impossible to rule the work out of court. More likely repertoire is to be found in the great works by Davy and Mason here recorded, as well as the three pieces by Sheppard. The Choir of Magdalen seem entirely at ease with the ’Eton style’; in fact, one is sometimes tempted to find the singing, particularly in the solo verses of the Stabat Mater, too relaxed, until the full choir enters anew to blast Davy’s extraordinary vocal architecture into full-blown life.

On the other hand, Jacquet sounds entirely to their liking too, and Sheppard absolutely second nature. His responsory Dum transisset has always seemed to me the equal of Taverner’s famous setting, and here receives a performance that sounds equally convinced of this. The disc concludes with Sheppard’s first, sublime, setting of Libera nos. A treasurable treasure-trove indeed."

Ivan Moody



                                  Artistic quality 9 - Sound quality 9

"This is a real "hometown team" disc that revolves around music making at Oxford’s Magadalen College. Not only did the college’s choir record this collection at its own chapel, but the repertoire is very much Magdalen’s as well: each piece was written between 1480 and 1560 and was either composed or sung at Magadalen. You may wonder just how many interesting or important works sprang from this source during that relatively brief 80-year span, but this disc proves just how rich the musical life of the church was back then, largely due to the influential musicians who at one point or other served as the school’s Informatores Choristarum (chorister instructors).

By far, the most well-known Magdalen composer was John Sheppard, and a good portion of this album is dedicated to his output (Dum tranisset sabbatum, The Lord’s Prayer, and Libera nos). But even more fascinating is to hear the program’s other material, both for its rarity and also for its demonstration of the aesthetic crossroads of the 16th century. Juxtaposed are pieces of Sarum plainchant, selections by John Mason, Jacquet of Mantua, and Thomas Appleby, as well as John Davy’s stately, polyphonic Stabat mater (which in a disc full of very fine performances particularly stands out, as the 15-minute work demands a high endurance level from the singers). Brief instrumental interludes come in the form of two organ pieces by Thomas Preston.

Director Bill Ives conducts his forces with an assured sense of balance between parts (a performance facet faithfully captured by the audio engineers), and both his adult and boy choristers sing with unerring pitch and fine phrasing. Having said that, this is a disc more for specialist than casual listeners, despite the broad-market appeal of the title "Songs of Angels". But for lovers of early English choral music, it is quite rewarding."

Anastasia Tsioulacas

ClassicsToday.com

"It is interesting to hear repertoire more familiar in upwardly-transposed renditions by mixed early music ensembles, sung "at pitch" by a full chapel choir. This is undoubtedly how the music would have sounded to its composers, but comparison with the reduced-voice high-pitch equivalents is instructive. The lower pitch leads to a greater warmth, and an increased focus on the middle voices, whereas the Wulstan-ised performances, for the most part up a minor third, largely rely on the incandescence of the stratospheric upper voice parts for effect. Similarly the impact of the dramatic contrast between solo and tutti sections is emphasised in the present performance, using as it does a choir which is twice as big as the standard early music choir. The inner voice parts stand up very well to the resulting scrutiny, but there is also some lovely singing from the boys en masse and the excellent treble soloist in Richard Davey’s Stabat Mater. Side by side with familiar repertoire by Richard Davey and John Sheppard we also have the pleasure of some unfamiliar material by Thomas Preston, John Mason and Thomas Appleby, the latter represented by a powerful setting of the Magnificat."

D James Ross

Early Music Forum of Scotland - News



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