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John Sheppard: Sacred Choral Music

Sheppard / Choir Of St Mary's Cathedral / Ferguson
Release Date: 02/11/2014 
Label:  Delphian   Catalog #: 34123   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  John Sheppard
Performer:  Duncan FergusonMichael WoodChristopher BorrettAnna Cooper,   ... 
Conductor:  Duncan Ferguson
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



SHEPPARD Libera nos I. Reges Tharsis et insulae. Gaude virgo Christiphera. Sacris solemniis. Kyrie Lux et origo. Missa Cantate. Adesto sancta Trinitas II. Hodie nobis caelorum rex. Verbum caro Duncan Ferguson, cond; Ch of St. Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh DELPHIAN 34123 (68:59 Text and Translation)

For all that the liner notes to this release point out (correctly) how much of John Sheppard’s output remains neglected, a good deal of Read more this release is devoted to material previously recorded. Two exceptions need to be noted, however. First, there is the premiere on disc of the composer’s second setting of the Trinity Vespers hymn Adesto sancta Trinitas . It places the cantus firmus in the tenor, unlike his first setting, which has it in the treble.


Second, Sheppard’s only extant votive antiphon, Gaude virgo Christiphera , is heard here with a new reconstruction by Magnus Williamson of its missing treble part. Ferguson labels only one previous attempt at this reconstruction as credible: an unpublished edition by David Wulstan, who recorded it with his Clerkes of Oxenford over a quarter of a century ago. As it is no longer in print, Ferguson’s recording is truly welcome, despite claims by Williamson that his version cannot be considered definitive. (That would seem next to impossible to achieve, given the material’s exposure at the top of the parts, without surrounding textures to help define its shape.)


Ferguson also states that Hodie nobis caelorum rex is heard on this CD for the first time in what he believes to be its original conception—that is, with its four soloists (three trebles and a tenor) forming one group, and singing at a considerable distance from the main ensemble (and to an extent, from the microphones)—an effect similar to some of the polyphonic experiments Adrian Willaert was deploying at the time as maestro di cappella at St. Mark’s in Venice. It’s of course possible that this is a first, but whether accurate or not, the ethereal quartet is delightful.


The Choir of St. Mary’s, Edinburgh, makes an impressive, vigorous sound on this release, with rather less of the usual careful British blending of all parts, and more attention paid to creating distinct timbres that give shape to the florid beauty of Sheppard’s elaborate counterpoint. Not least of the pleasures here are the soloists, who are without exception of fine quality. My one reservation is that, given the sheer size of the choir when under full sail—19 trebles, three altos, five tenors, four baritones, and four basses—at times the lines tend to be obscured, as in his magnificent first setting, in seven parts, of Libera nos . I could have wished for slimmer forces and a dryer acoustic at such moments; but all in all, this is a delightful release of sacred music by one of the great Tudor masters of choral composition.

FANFARE: Barry Brenesal

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Works on This Recording

1.
Reges Tharsis et insulae by John Sheppard
Performer:  Duncan Ferguson (Organ)
Conductor:  Duncan Ferguson
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
Venue:  St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburg 
Length: 5 Minutes 10 Secs. 
2.
Gaude Virgo Christipera for 6 voices by John Sheppard
Performer:  Michael Wood (Alto), Duncan Ferguson (Organ), Christopher Borrett (),
Anna Cooper (Treble), Sam [Bass Vocal] Carl (), Sam Clarke (),
Sam Jenkins (), Andrew [Tenor Vocal] Bennett ()
Conductor:  Duncan Ferguson
Period: Renaissance 
Venue:  St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburg 
Length: 10 Minutes 33 Secs. 
3.
Sacris solemniis iuncta sit gaudia by John Sheppard
Performer:  Duncan Ferguson (Organ)
Conductor:  Duncan Ferguson
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
Venue:  St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburg 
Length: 7 Minutes 30 Secs. 
4.
Paschal Kyrie by John Sheppard
Performer:  Duncan Ferguson (Organ)
Conductor:  Duncan Ferguson
Period: Renaissance 
Venue:  St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburg 
Length: 3 Minutes 34 Secs. 
5.
Cantate Mass by John Sheppard
Performer:  Andrew [Tenor Vocal] Bennett (), Oliver Brewer (), Christopher Borrett (),
Sam Jenkins (), Matthew Davies (), Max Carsley (Treble),
Duncan Ferguson (Organ), Anna Cooper (Treble), Sam Clarke (),
Michael Wood (Alto)
Conductor:  Duncan Ferguson
Period: Renaissance 
Written: circa 1553-1558; England 
Venue:  St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburg 
Length: 25 Minutes 7 Secs. 
6.
Adesto sancta Trinitas (II) by John Sheppard
Performer:  Duncan Ferguson (Organ)
Conductor:  Duncan Ferguson
Period: Renaissance 
Venue:  St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburg 
Length: 4 Minutes 26 Secs. 
7.
Hodie nobis caelorum rex by John Sheppard
Performer:  Peter Gill (Treble), Duncan Ferguson (Organ), Max Carsley (Treble),
Katie Bradshaw (Treble), Sam Clarke (Treble)
Conductor:  Duncan Ferguson
Period: Renaissance 
Venue:  St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburg 
Length: 2 Minutes 50 Secs. 
8.
Verbum caro factum est by John Sheppard
Performer:  Duncan Ferguson (Organ)
Conductor:  Duncan Ferguson
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
Venue:  St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburg 
Length: 7 Minutes 3 Secs. 
9.
Libera nos, settings 1 & 2 for 6 voices by John Sheppard
Performer:  Duncan Ferguson (Organ)
Conductor:  Duncan Ferguson
Period: Renaissance 
Venue:  St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburg 
Length: 2 Minutes 37 Secs. 

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