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Taverner: Missa Mater Christi Sanctissima / Sixteen, Et Al


Release Date: 05/09/2000 
Label:  Helios   Catalog #: 55053   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  John Taverner
Conductor:  Harry Christophers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The SixteenFretwork
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 5 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Continuing their series of recordings of the works of John Taverner, The Sixteen now offer their impressive account of the composer's five-part Missa Mater Christi sanctissima, based on his votive anthem of the same name. It is a lively and vigorous work, beautifully crafted, and this performance amply matches the craftsmanship of the composer. The Sixteen are not the first choir to have recorded this work: four years ago the choir of Christ Church, Oxford, made a splendid recording with Stephen Darlington. Christ Church would appear to have held all the trump cards: in the first place, because Taverner wrote this Mass for this very choir, of which in the sixteenth century he was informator, the choir of what was then Wolsey's Cardinal Read more College. The composition of the choir was the same then as now, with 16 boy trebles. Furthermore, the acoustic would have been identical. What more could a present-day, authenticityseeking conductor desire? To make their performance even more 'authentic', the choir had attempted to place it in its correct liturgical setting—in a mass celebrated according to the rite of Salisbury.

Possessing none of these 'inherited' advantages, Harry Christophers approaches the Mass from a different angle. He attempts no liturgical reconstruction, concentrating instead upon sheer musical quality. Three female sopranos replace the boy trebles. The music is all pitched up a tone, which has the effect of adding brilliance to every climax. He demonstrates the surprisingly good acoustic of St Jude-on-the-Hill in Hampstead—an acoustic of space and definition, ideal for the interweaving of the strands of early Tudor polyphony. His slightly slower tempo than that adopted by Darlington makes for greater clarity and a certain welcome gravitas. Without being told so, I might have been able to recognize, in the quality of the recording, the hand of Antony Howell: clarity and a sense of space are its hallmarks. In addition, there is an ease and elegance about this performance by The Sixteen, which shows itself in many ways, not least in the careful sculpting of the individual phrases, but also in attention to such details as the cadential triplets in the treble part at "de Deo VE-ro" (in the Credo—indicated by coloration and the proportional sign 3.2 in the part-book).

-- Gramophone [3/1994]
reviewing the original release of this title, Hyperion 66639
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Works on This Recording

1.
Hodie nobis caelorum Rex by John Taverner
Conductor:  Harry Christophers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Sixteen
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
2.
Mater Christi sanctissima by John Taverner
Conductor:  Harry Christophers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Sixteen
Period: Renaissance 
Written: circa 1540; England 
3.
Nesciens mater by John Taverner
Conductor:  Harry Christophers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Sixteen
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
4.
Quemadmodum by John Taverner
Conductor:  Harry Christophers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork,  The Sixteen
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
5.
Missa "Mater Christi" by John Taverner
Conductor:  Harry Christophers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Sixteen
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
6.
In Nomine à 4 by John Taverner
Conductor:  Harry Christophers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fretwork,  The Sixteen
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 

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