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I Sing The Birth / New York Polyphony


Release Date: 10/02/2007 
Label:  Avie   Catalog #: 2141   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Giovanni PalestrinaPérotinAnonymousJacobus Clemens non Papa,   ... 
Performer:  Geoffrey Dunstan WilliamsGeoffrey SilverScott DispensaElizabeth Baker,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 1 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews


There may be a better vocal Christmas disc to come along this season, but it would have to be awfully impressive to best this beautifully sung, imaginatively programmed effort from the male-quartet New York Polyphony. As the liner notes point out, Christmas uniquely brings together a hugely diverse range of musical styles and traditions, and this program reflects that diversity while maintaining the integrity of a unified program, in both atmosphere (amazingly, recorded in a church in the middle of New York!) and in the prevailing medieval/Renaissance sensibility of even the modern pieces. Of course the four singers have much to do with creating and sustaining the mood and imbuing the works with
Read more particular interpretive flavor--these are ideally matched, sensitively balanced voices, warm yet vibrant in the tradition of groups such as the Hilliard Ensemble. And the singing is impeccable--the breathing, the phrasing, all of the ensemble work shows musicians at one with each other and with the music at hand.

The repertoire is unusual, but not just for the sake of offering something "different"; there is purpose here in revealing the threads of early chant, medieval harmony, and Renaissance polyphony strung through to the most recent works, including one commissioned for this recording. Even ancient texts appear in the more modern pieces, including Kenneth Leighton's Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child, the only selection on the program (other than the "Coventry Carol") that enjoys a relatively frequent presence on today's Christmas choral concerts and recordings. Here (and on a few other pieces) the men are joined by three women, one of whom is original Anonymous 4 member Ruth Cunningham, and unlike most other renditions, this one seems inspired a bit more by the work's jazz-like elements. As for the Coventry Carol, the four men somehow manage to juice the famous points of dissonance with even more delicious bite than usual.

Other highlights include the opening number, Andrew Smith's ravishing recent setting of Veni Redemptor gentium, which begins with the chant but, almost before you realize what's happening, transforms to a marvelous harmonic texture that ingeniously mixes ancient and new. Palestrina's Hodie Christus natus est, Byrd's O magnum mysterium, and Cornysh's starkly-harmonious, lively-rhythmic Ave Maria Mater Dei are all sung with utmost sensitivity, clarity, and virtuosity. Parsons' Ave Maria is a masterpiece and in its simple way, so is New York Polyphony's very lovely setting of Away in a manger--a performance you'll want to repeat many times. In fact, that applies to this entire expertly recorded disc, which offers many more pleasures too numerous to mention here, but that hopefully you'll soon discover for yourself.

--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Hodie Christus natus est by Giovanni Palestrina
Performer:  Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor), Geoffrey Silver (Tenor), Scott Dispensa (Baritone),
Elizabeth Baker (Soprano), Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone), Emilie Williams (Alto),
Ruth Cunningham (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; Italy 
2.
Beata viscera by Pérotin
Performer:  Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor), Geoffrey Silver (Tenor), Scott Dispensa (Baritone),
Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone), Elizabeth Baker (Soprano), Ruth Cunningham (Soprano),
Emilie Williams (Alto)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Medieval 
Written: circa 1200; France 
3.
Alma Redemptoris mater by Anonymous
Performer:  Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor), Geoffrey Silver (Tenor), Scott Dispensa (Baritone),
Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone), Elizabeth Baker (Soprano), Ruth Cunningham (Soprano),
Emilie Williams (Alto)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Medieval 
Written: 10th Century 
4.
Vox in Rama by Jacobus Clemens non Papa
Performer:  Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor), Geoffrey Silver (Tenor), Scott Dispensa (Baritone),
Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone), Elizabeth Baker (Soprano), Ruth Cunningham (Soprano),
Emilie Williams (Alto)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Renaissance 
5.
Away in a manger by William James Kirkpatrick
Performer:  Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor), Geoffrey Silver (Tenor), Scott Dispensa (Baritone),
Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone), Elizabeth Baker (Soprano), Ruth Cunningham (Soprano),
Emilie Williams (Alto)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
6.
Ave Maria by Anonymous
Performer:  Emilie Williams (Alto), Ruth Cunningham (Soprano), Elizabeth Baker (Soprano),
Scott Dispensa (Baritone), Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone), Geoffrey Silver (Tenor),
Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Medieval 
7.
Veni, Redemptor gentium by Anonymous
Performer:  Emilie Williams (Alto), Ruth Cunningham (Soprano), Elizabeth Baker (Soprano),
Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone), Scott Dispensa (Baritone), Geoffrey Silver (Tenor),
Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Medieval 
8.
Magi veniunt ab oriente by Jacobus Clemens non Papa
Performer:  Scott Dispensa (Baritone), Geoffrey Silver (Tenor), Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor),
Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone), Elizabeth Baker (Soprano), Emilie Williams (Alto),
Ruth Cunningham (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Renaissance 
Notes: This composition has also been attributed to Pieter Maessens (ca. 1505-62). 
9.
Veni Redemptor gentium by Andrew Smith
Performer:  Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor), Geoffrey Silver (Tenor), Scott Dispensa (Baritone),
Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone), Elizabeth Baker (Soprano), Ruth Cunningham (Soprano),
Emilie Williams (Alto)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: 20th Century 
10.
Hodie Christus natus est by Anonymous
Performer:  Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor), Geoffrey Silver (Tenor), Scott Dispensa (Baritone),
Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone), Elizabeth Baker (Soprano), Ruth Cunningham (Soprano),
Emilie Williams (Alto)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Medieval 
11.
Puer natus est nobis by Anonymous
Performer:  Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor), Geoffrey Silver (Tenor), Scott Dispensa (Baritone),
Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone), Elizabeth Baker (Soprano), Ruth Cunningham (Soprano),
Emilie Williams (Alto)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Medieval 
12.
Carols (3), Op. 25: no 2, Lully, lulla thou little tiny child by Kenneth Leighton
Performer:  Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor), Geoffrey Silver (Tenor), Scott Dispensa (Baritone),
Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone), Elizabeth Baker (Soprano), Ruth Cunningham (Soprano),
Emilie Williams (Alto)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; England 
13.
Ave Maria, mater Dei by William Cornysh
Performer:  Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor), Geoffrey Silver (Tenor), Scott Dispensa (Baritone),
Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone), Elizabeth Baker (Soprano), Ruth Cunningham (Soprano),
Emilie Williams (Alto)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
14.
The darkest midnight in December by Traditional
Performer:  Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor), Geoffrey Silver (Tenor), Scott Dispensa (Baritone),
Ruth Cunningham (Soprano), Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone), Elizabeth Baker (Soprano),
Emilie Williams (Alto)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Written: Ireland 
15.
O magnum mysterium: The fader of heven by Peter Maxwell Davies
Performer:  Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor), Geoffrey Silver (Tenor), Scott Dispensa (Baritone),
Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone), Elizabeth Baker (Soprano), Ruth Cunningham (Soprano),
Emilie Williams (Alto)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1960; England 
16.
Vox in Rama audita est by Anonymous
Performer:  Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor), Ruth Cunningham (Soprano), Scott Dispensa (Baritone),
Emilie Williams (Alto), Geoffrey Silver (Tenor), Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone),
Elizabeth Baker (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Medieval 
17.
Ave Maria by Robert Parsons
Performer:  Elizabeth Baker (Soprano), Emilie Williams (Alto), Ruth Cunningham (Soprano),
Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor), Geoffrey Silver (Tenor), Scott Dispensa (Baritone),
Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 1560s; England 
18.
Lully, lulla, thow littel tyne child "Coventry Carol" by Traditional
Performer:  Emilie Williams (Alto), Ruth Cunningham (Soprano), Elizabeth Baker (Soprano),
Scott Dispensa (Baritone), Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone), Geoffrey Silver (Tenor),
Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
19.
Lullay, lullow, I saw a swete semly syght by Anonymous
Performer:  Emilie Williams (Alto), Ruth Cunningham (Soprano), Elizabeth Baker (Soprano),
Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone), Scott Dispensa (Baritone), Geoffrey Silver (Tenor),
Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Medieval 
Written: 14th Century; England 
20.
Marvel not, Joseph by Anonymous
Performer:  Emilie Williams (Alto), Ruth Cunningham (Soprano), Elizabeth Baker (Soprano),
Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone), Scott Dispensa (Baritone), Geoffrey Silver (Tenor),
Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; England 
21.
Dieus wous garde by Richard Smert
Performer:  Emilie Williams (Alto), Ruth Cunningham (Soprano), Elizabeth Baker (Soprano),
Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone), Scott Dispensa (Baritone), Geoffrey Silver (Tenor),
Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; England 
22.
Gradualia, Volume 2: O magnum misterium by William Byrd
Performer:  Emilie Williams (Alto), Ruth Cunningham (Soprano), Elizabeth Baker (Soprano),
Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone), Scott Dispensa (Baritone), Geoffrey Silver (Tenor),
Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1607; England 
23.
Ecce Advenit dominator Dominus by Anonymous
Performer:  Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor), Emilie Williams (Alto), Ruth Cunningham (Soprano),
Elizabeth Baker (Soprano), Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone), Scott Dispensa (Baritone),
Geoffrey Silver (Tenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Medieval 
24.
Nunc dimittis by Andrew Smith
Performer:  Ruth Cunningham (Soprano), Emilie Williams (Alto), Elizabeth Baker (Soprano),
Craig Phillips (Bass Baritone), Scott Dispensa (Baritone), Geoffrey Silver (Tenor),
Geoffrey Dunstan Williams (Countertenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: 20th Century 

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