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Miserere / Martin Baker, Choir Of Westminster Cathedral

Choir Of Westminster Cathedral / Baker
Release Date: 01/08/2013 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67938  
Composer:  AnonymousGeorge MalcolmGiovanni CroceWilliam Byrd,   ... 
Performer:  Peter StevensWilliam Gaunt
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 1 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MISERERE Martin Baker, cond; Westminster Cathedral Ch; Peter Stevens (org) HYPERION 67938 (79:15 Text and Translation)


Music of MALCOLM, BYRD, PALESTRINA, CROCE, BEVAN, MAWBY, PARSONS, GUERRERO, TALLIS, CHANT

The subtitle is “A sequence of music for Lent, St. Joseph, and the Annunciation.” St. Joseph (March 19) and the Annunciation (March 25) are feast days that usually occur during Lent, hence the unexpected juxtaposition. The mix of Read more Renaissance and contemporary composers gives exposure to two former choirmasters at the cathedral, George Malcolm (1947-59) and his pupil Colin Mawby (1961-76), and Mawby’s assistant David Bevan; the latter two began as choirboys there.


William Byrd’s Ash Wednesday anthem Emendemus in melius is followed by the first recording of Palestrina’s Mass using the same text on an unidentified cantus firmus (it is not based on Byrd’s piece). The program ends with the Compline canticle Nunc dimittis by George Malcolm, framed by the proper chant antiphon, Salva nos . It is preceded by Thomas Tallis’s first setting of the Compline hymn, Te lucis ante terminum. Salva nos is one of nine chants on the program, including the complete Mass IX; added is Credo IV, one of the less-familiar settings. A Magnificat by David Bevan is framed by another chant antiphon for the First Sunday in Lent in its first recording, Evigila super nos . The program begins with the chant motet for Lent, Attende Domine , followed by George Malcolm’s psalm Miserere mei in a setting reminiscent of Gregorio Allegri’s setting of the same text.


While the polyphony is appropriately a cappella , the chants are accompanied lightly on the organ. Baker appeals to the late 19th-century construction of the cathedral as justification for a practice common at that time. The music for the Annunciation includes, besides Mass IX, two Marian motets by Robert Parsons and Francesco Guerrero. The only nod to St. Joseph are anthems by Mawby and Malcolm on texts for the introit and offertory of his Mass, sung at the appropriate places during Mass IX. Of these, Mawby’s Justus ut palma is the most individual piece on the program, a macaronic (mixed Latin and English) setting for baritone solo, choir, and organ.


I have always admired this marvelous choir, but the uniformly placid flow of this music displays their tonal qualities to outstanding advantage. This is particularly effective in the opening Attende Domine , where the boys and men take alternate verses, joining on the last. The organ only steals in after a couple of verses, gradually increasing its presence while still remaining discreet enough. Mass IX, one of the most virtuosic chant settings of the Ordinary, is also gratifying as the boys and men alternate.


The choir was in Rome last November giving concerts (one included music of Mawby conducted by the composer) and joint appearances with the Sistine Choir at St. Peter’s. This is interesting because the Westminster Abbey Choir (directed by James O’Donnell, Martin Baker’s predecessor with the cathedral choir) had a similar encounter in Rome five months earlier. The new director of the Sistine Choir, Msgr. Massimo Palombella, wanted two of London’s finest church choirs to model their singing for his boys and men. The results could be heard last Christmas as Midnight Mass was televised on NBC, an improvement over the past even if he is still not finished with the effort to improve his choir. As miscellaneous collections go, this disc is unusually rewarding, worthy of your attention.

FANFARE: J. F. Weber
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Works on This Recording

1.
Salva nos, Domine by Anonymous
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
Period: Renaissance 
2.
Missa "cum jubilo" by Anonymous
Performer:  Peter Stevens (Organ)
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
Period: Medieval 
3.
Audi benigne conditor by Anonymous
Performer:  Peter Stevens (Organ)
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
Period: Medieval 
4.
Attende Domine by Anonymous
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
Period: Medieval 
5.
Miserere mei, Deus by George Malcolm
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
Period: 20th Century 
6.
In spiritu humilitatis by Giovanni Croce
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1601; Italy 
7.
Evigila super nos by Anonymous
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
8.
Cantiones, quae ab argumento sacrae vocantur: Emendemus in melius by William Byrd
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1575; England 
9.
Scapulis suis by George Malcolm
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
10.
Magnificat quarti toni by David Bevan
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
11.
Iustus ut palma by Colin Mawby
Performer:  Peter Stevens (Organ), William Gaunt (Bass)
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
12.
Veritas mea by George Malcolm
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
Period: 20th Century 
13.
Ave Virgo sanctissima by Francisco Guerrero
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; Spain 
14.
Te lucis ante terminum by Thomas Tallis
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
15.
Nunc dimittis tertii toni by George Malcolm
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
Period: 20th Century 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Powerful Voices from Westminster February 28, 2013 By Herschel V. Anderson (Mesa, AZ) See All My Reviews "The Choir of Westminster Cathedral has provided a recording of both ancient and contemporary liturgical music that charms the ears with its harmonies sung by strong and beautiful voices. The traditional choir of men and boys distinguishes itself with this recording, one I would recommend for a "Grammy". In addition the recording engineers have provided a carefully crafted balance of voices and organ with almost no echo despite recording the music within the cathedral. The title: "Miserere" might dismay some possible purchases. The disappointment would be that they missed being able to enjoy this exciting recording of predominantly Lenten music sung by one of England's best choirs." Report Abuse
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