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Roma Aeterna / New York Polyphony


Release Date: 08/12/2016 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 2203   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Francisco GuerreroGiovanni PalestrinaTomás Luis de Victoria
Performer:  Jonathan WoodyAndrew FuchsTim Keeler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Palestrina preceded Victoria as chapel master of the Roman Seminary. Apart from this the younger composer seems to have little connection with the elder and indeed on the strength of the two main works performed on this disc, Victoria was the more cosmopolitan and less passionate in style. The four singers of New York Polyphony along with their three colleagues listed above produce some of the purest and most beautiful sounds I have ever heard in this music. The marketing paragraph reproduced in the liner notes refers to them being regarded as one of the finest in the world, I confess their name was entirely new to me but on the strength of this remarkable display of musicianship and virtuosity they seem to justify the description. The Read more strength and unity of their approach combined with absolute accuracy of pitch makes this disc an essential purchase however many other performances you may own of the Palestrina Missa in particular.

The meticulously detailed BIS track listing shows exactly where plainchant propers are interpolated in the Missa Papæ Marcelli and Motets in the Victoria. This provides the fuller perspective for listening that the composers would have expected. Ivan Moody's brilliantly written liner notes help us, listening as we are to music from close-on half a millennium ago, to place these stunningly beautiful pieces in their context. Moody also tries his best to justify the curious album title 'Roma Æterna'; difficult because it refers to the lasting nature of the city despite changes in culture and politics, and this music is all from a short time in the late 16th century and has only theological eternity in mind.

BIS always make splendid recordings, but the acoustic of the St Cecilia Cathedral seems to have helped this recording to even greater clarity and spaciousness than normal. The 150 years of history behind St Cecilia's in Omaha seems to have culminated in acoustic expertise being brought to bear during the late 20th century which may be the reason this disc sounds so good. I cannot help but add a tale from their website about the collection of monies when cathedral reconstruction was needed around 1866. Apparently the efforts of one Father Kelly were remarkably successful partly because of this incident: "Entering a dance hall in a mining camp one day, one of the men demanded to know what he (Father Kelly) was doing there. 'I am collecting for a new cathedral in Omaha,' was the reply. Thereupon the Western man doffed his hat, drew his trusty six-shooter, and accompanied the astonished priest around the room, thus obtaining more than a hatful of money through this 'persuasive' method." Modern cathedral fundraising would probably prefer to eschew this approach!

– MusicWeb International (Dave Billinge) Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Regina caeli by Francisco Guerrero
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Written: pub 1584 
2.
Missa "Papae Marcelli" by Giovanni Palestrina
Performer:  Jonathan Woody (Bass Baritone), Andrew Fuchs (Tenor), Tim Keeler (Countertenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1567; Italy 
3.
Tu es Petrus by Giovanni Palestrina
Performer:  Tim Keeler (Countertenor), Andrew Fuchs (Tenor), Jonathan Woody (Bass Baritone)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; Italy 
4.
Missa "O quam gloriosum" by Tomás Luis de Victoria
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1583; Spain 
5.
Gaudent in coelis by Tomás Luis de Victoria
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1585; Spain 
6.
Gaudent in coelis by Giovanni Palestrina
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
7.
Sicut cervus by Giovanni Palestrina
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1581; Italy 
8.
Sitivit anima mea by Giovanni Palestrina
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; Italy 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 A beautiful achievement November 1, 2016 By Bernard A J. (Kansas City, MO) See All My Reviews "New York Polyphony is at the top of their game in the singing of medieval and renaissance music, and these recordings are impeccable contuining their singing mastery of this period. I have always considered the music of this period a little on the boring side and never done with much feeling. I have therefore avoided them until New York Polyphony came to the forefront. The BIS recording engineers have done an excellent job in doing the recording which only adds to the artistry of New York Polyphony. When I hear them done this well, it is like hearing them for the first time. I recommend them highly whether you like medieval/renaissance or just tolerate it, you will be in for a real treat." Report Abuse
 Powerful, pure & polished polyphony July 18, 2016 By Dean Frey See All My Reviews "New York Polyphony, whose 2014 Christmas album was a stand-out release, now present this superb recording of great music from the Eternal City's 16th Century artistic peak. Singing one voice per part (the core group in the 4-part works, augmented with other fine singers in 6-part repertoire) New York Polyphony provides absolute purity in these amazing works. There's been some criticism that there's too much precision - Brian Wilson at MusicWeb International says, in an otherwise admiring review, "everything here sounds just a little too perfectly polished" - but I don't see it that way. The intelligibility of the words of the mass in spite of polyphonic overlapping became an important issue following the Council of Trent, and under the influence of Cardinal Charles Borromeo, according to Ivan Moody's excellent essay included in the liner notes. This repertoire, and especially the Palestrina, is about the spiritual life, but the politics of the Counter-Reformation (even if one discounts the debunked legend of Palestrina as 'saviour of polyphony') looks to the presentation of Catholic music as perfect and eternal. Power, purity, polish, polyphony: these all go with another P word: power. Finally, I must say some words about the great record company BIS. From their home in Sweden they have real global reach: their projects with OSESP in Sao Paulo and Bach Collegium Japan in Tokyo represent the highest possible musical and engineering standards. This project with New York musicians recording in Omaha, Nebraska continues that legacy of excellence." Report Abuse
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