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Taverner: Missa Sancti Wilhelmi / Christophers, The Sixteen


Release Date: 06/13/2000 
Label:  Helios   Catalog #: 55055   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  John Taverner
Conductor:  Harry Christophers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Sixteen
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 52 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Taverner's St William Mass, his Missa S(ancti) Wil(helmi)—a more probable title than its hitherto enigmatic "Small Devotion"—as well as the composer's votive antiphon 0 Willie/me, pastor bone—to a text ordered to be sung each night after Compline—and the Responsory Ex eius tumba, with its prose Sospitati for the Feast of St Nicholas, patron saint of students: all point to Wolsey's prestigious foundation in Oxford, Cardinal College, with its choir that might easily have outrivalled even the Chapel Royal itself. The Sixteen, more streamlined, perhaps, but no less brilliant, pitch all this music up a minor third, so that the treble's opening phrase is arresting as it leaps up a fourth to a top A flat on the words "0 Read more Wilhel.me". The antiphony between the low and high voices is carefully managed and the balance is generally good, except that the mean is sometimes so gentle as to allow itself to be eclipsed by the surrounding voices, chiefly the treble and the countertenor.

In the Easter responsory Dum transisset the singers maintain a steady tempo in the polyphony and a fairly brisk one in the chant sections. There is never any attempt, however, at establishing a relationship of tempo between chant and polyphony. Yet the chant is sung with a sense of phrasing and a commendable legato. In the St Nicholas prose I wondered whether the singers had ever considered experimenting with a slowly measured ternary rhythm for the short chant repeats of each phrase on the vowel '0': there seems to be more than a hint of this, underlying the cantus firmus in the polyphonic sections.

The Mass is pure delight, with some fine, imaginative singing: the varied voice groupings reply to each other, dovetail and merge, reserving the full rich five-voiced texture for some splendid climaxes. This is a recording one would wish to hear again and again.

-- Gramophone [4/1992]
reviewing the original release of this title, Hyperion 66427
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Works on This Recording

1. O Wilhelme, pastor bone by John Taverner
Conductor:  Harry Christophers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Sixteen
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
2. Dum transisset Sabbatum II by John Taverner
Conductor:  Harry Christophers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Sixteen
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
3. Missa "Sancti Wilhelmi" by John Taverner
Conductor:  Harry Christophers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Sixteen
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
4. Ex eius tumba by John Taverner
Conductor:  Harry Christophers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Sixteen
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 

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