BACH, Johann Sebastian (1685-1750)
Favourite Arias and Choruses
Siri Karoline Thornhill, Claudia Couwenbergh, Soprano /Ann Hallenberg, Mezzo-Soprano / Marianne Beate Kielland, Alto / Markus Schäfer, Tenor / Hanno Müller-Brachmann, Bass-Baritone / Dresden Chamber Choir / Jürgen Schuster, Trumpet / Cologne CO / Helmut Müller-Brühl
Johann Sebastian Bach was an absolute master of all the musical forms of his time except opera, which he never had the opportunity to compose. Yet in his sacred vocal and choral music he fully assimilated the expressive potential of secular Baroque vocal music with his abiding respect for the music, both sacred and profane, of his predecessors. This disc, a representative selection of his sacred music, will appeal both to the experienced music lover and to those just beginning to discover Bach’s immortal music.
BACH, Johann Sebastian (1685-1750)
St. John Passion
Oxford New College Choir / Collegium Novum / Edward Higginbottom
St John Passion shows Bach’s towering imagination at its most intensely dramatic, moving and vivid. Christ’s trial and death are retold by soloists acting as participants in the event but also meditating upon it in reflective arias; the choir’s role alters from rowdy mob baying for crucifixion to that of a congregation singing quiet, redemptive chorales. Criticised in its day for being too operatic, the work is now revered for its originality, for its faith and above all for its incomparable beauty of musical thought. This new reading is a testament to the vitality of the choral tradition: all soloists are former or current members of New College Choir. It also presents a new level of authenticity, not only with period instruments but also with boys’ voices as Bach would have used at St Thomas’s in Leipzig.
BACH, Johann Sebastian (1685-1750)
St. Matthew Passion
Nico van der Meel, Markus Schäfer, Tenor / Raimund Nolte, Bass-Baritone /
Locky Chung, Hanno Müller-Brachmann, Bass / Claudia Couwenbergh, Soprano /
Marianne Beate Kielland, Alto / Dresden Chamber Choir / Cologne Cathedral Boys Choir / Cologne CO /
Bach composed five Passion settings, but only those based on the gospels of St Matthew and St John have survived. The first version of his St Matthew Passion, scored for two choirs and two orchestras, was performed on Good Friday in either 1727 or 1729. In addition to its biblical texts, there are recitatives and arias that offer reflection on the events of the Passion, and chorales that allow the chorus to add its own, more intimate meditation. The whole work is in two parts: the first taking its narrative from the events leading up to Christ’s betrayal, the second from His condemnation and crucifixion.
BRAHMS, Johannes (1833-1897)
Ein deutsches Requiem
Anna Lucia Richter, Soprano / Stephan Genz, Baritone / Leipzig MDR Radio Choir & SO / Marin Alsop
Brahms’s A German Requiem, almost certainly triggered by the death of his mother in 1865, is one of his greatest and most popular works, quite unlike any previous Requiem. With texts taken from Luther’s translation of the Bible and an emphasis on comforting the living for their loss and on hope of the Resurrection, the work is deeply rooted in the tradition of Bach and Schütz, but is vastly different in character from the Latin Requiem of Catholic tradition with its evocation of the Day of Judgement and prayers for mercy on the souls of the dead.
DURUFLÉ, Maurice (1902-1986)
Sacred Choral & Organ Works, Vol. 1 - Requiem • 4 Motets • Prelude and Fugue
Béatrice Uria-Monzon, Mezzo-Soprano / Didier Henry, Baritone / Michel Piquemal Vocal Ensemble / Eric Lebrun, Organ / Orchestre de la Cité / Marc Vieillefon, Violin / François Poly, Cello / Michel Piquemal
HANDEL, George Frideric (1685-1759)
Messiah (1751 version)
Henry Jenkinson, Otta Jones, Robert Brooks, Trebles / Iestyn Davies, Counter-Tenor / Toby Spence, Tenor /
Eamonn Dougan, Bass / Academy of Ancient Music / Choir of New College Oxford / Edward Higginbottom
Handel’s most popular and joyous oratorio, a work of unfailing melodic invention and dramatic expressiveness, has become almost a British national institution, regularly performed by all manner of choirs and orchestras. This new recording provides the only modern re-construction of Handel’s unique London performances in 1751, when he used boy treble voices not only for the choruses but for the arias as well. It is both a celebration of the British chapel choir tradition and a window onto a particular time and place in the history of Handel’s own performances of his masterpiece.
LEIGHTON, Kenneth (1929-1988)
Sacred Choral Music: An Easter Sequence • Crucifixus pro nobis
St. John's College Choir, Cambridge / Christopher Robinson
Kenneth Leighton’s distinctive compositional voice is characterized by rich, lush harmonies, subtle dissonance, rhythmic energy and a lilting, angular lyricism. Pithy thematic ideas and syncopated rhythms are allied to a brilliant mastery of counterpoint and a unique sense of melody borne of a lifelong love of hymns, chorale and chant. This collection features the two contrasting Canticle Settings, the Easter Sequence scored for boys’ voices, organ and trumpet (played here by Crispian Steele-Perkins) and Crucifixus pro nobis, the austere, miniature masterpiece of a Passion setting for tenor, choir and organ which climaxes with one of English choral music’s remarkable icons “Drop, drop, slow tears”.
MACMILLAN, James (b. 1959)
7 Last Words from the Cross
Dmitri Ensemble / Graham Ross
‘In recent years it has been an enormous thrill hearing my music being performed by The Dmitri Ensemble. This excellent, young ensemble brings a breath of fresh air to music making in this country, and are fortunate to have in their director Graham Ross one of the most exciting new musicians to appear on the radar. I am honoured and thrilled that they are choosing to mark my 50th birthday with this disc on Naxos, bringing together a number of different choral works from 1993 to 2005.’—James MacMillan
MOZART, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756-1791)
Miriam Allan, Soprano / Anne Buter, Mezzo-Soprano / Marcus Ullmann, Tenor / Martin Snell, Bass /
Gewandhaus Chamber Choir / Leipzig CO / Morten Schuldt-Jensen
At his premature death in the early hours of 5th December, 1791, Mozart left his final masterpiece unfinished and shrouded in mystery. It had been commissioned by a ‘grey messenger’ whose ghostly apparition convinced the sick and impoverished composer that he was being told to write his own musical epitaph. This and the myth of his being poisoned by the jealous Salieri became the stuff of legend in the 19th century, and inspired an opera, a play and a film in the twentieth century. The Requiem remains one of the most personal, impassioned and profound of Mozart’s works.
PÄRT, Arvo (b. 1935)
Tonus Peregrinus / Antony Pitts
Born near Tallinn in Estonia in 1935, Arvo Pärt emigrated in 1980 and settled in Berlin. Soon after emigrating, Pärt completed the St John Passion which he based on his new-found tintinnabuli principle that “the melody and the accompaniment is one”. Settings of the Passion are part of a very early tradition in the Church, and in Pärt’s setting it is the text itself which determines the musical structure and even the duration of the silences between the words. Using the most concentrated of means, Pärt communicates the depth and power of the ancient Passion story in a new and compelling way.
PERGOLESI, Giovanni Battista (1710-1736)
Stabat Mater • Salve Regina
Jörg Waschinski, Soprano / Michael Chance, Counter-Tenor / Cologne CO / Helmut Müller-Brühl
The 18th century French writer, Charles de Brosses described Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, completed as the composer lay dying, as ‘the master work of Latin music’. Although this is music of great tenderness and sombre beauty, the work also includes chromatic sequences, sighing passages and dramatic dissonance straight out of the operatic style that had first made Pergolesi famous. Pergolesi’s Salve Regina in C minor, also from the composer’s last few months, is written in a similarly expressive style.
RUTTER, John (b. 1945)
Requiem and Other Sacred Music
Clare College Choir, Cambridge / Timothy Brown
Produced by the composer himself, this is the first recording of the ensemble version of John Rutter’s radiant Requiem. Written in 1985, the work is not a conventional setting of the Requiem Mass but comprises a personal selection of texts from the Catholic liturgy and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. John Rutter maintains intimate ties with Clare College and some of his anthems are left as a musical legacy to the college. Among these are two simple, tender blessings: Go forth into the world in peace, dedicated to the choir on the eve of its first tour to America; and A Clare Benediction, written as a gift to Rutter’s alma mater. This recording is dedicated to the memory of Christopher Rutter.
STAINER, John (1840-1901)
James Gilchrist, Tenor / Simon Bailey, Bass / Stephen Farr, Organ / Clare College Choir, Cambridge / Tim Brown
Modelled on the great passion settings of J.S. Bach, Stainer’s Crucifixion is amongst the most popular of all English choral works and vividly portrays the events of the Passion of Christ. Scored for tenor and bass soloists, organ and mixed choir, the piece combines recitatives, solos, and masterful choruses that range from the graphic mob shouts of Crucify Him to the ethereally beautiful meditation at the work's centrepiece God so loved the world.
AN EASTER ALBUM - A Timeless Selection of Easter Classics Featuring Music by
BACH, HANDEL, FAURÉ, STAINER, TAVENER and RUTTER
Lent and Easter have provided composers from every generation with a wealth of material to set to music, either drawin from the Bible itself or associated with the themes of the season: penitence, suffering, reflection, solace and joy. This 2 CD collection features a variety of music inspired by Easter, from early Gregorian Chant to Bach's majestic Passion settings to selections from the popular Requiems by Mozart, Fauré and Rutter.
FAVOURITE SACRED MASTERPIECES - TALLIS: Spem in alium • ALLEGRI: Miserere
PERGOLESI: Stabat mater • MOZART: Ave verum corpus
J.S. BACH /GOUNOD: Ave Maria • FRANCK: Panis angelicus
Some of the world’s greatest sacred masterpieces are heard on this disc, performed by some of the world’s leading vocal ensembles. The journey ranges from Thomas Tallis’s extraordinary Spem in alium to César Franck’s immortal Panis angelicus. Pergolesi’s Stabat mater is a masterpiece of the early eighteenth century. Mozart, who as a 14-year-old had copied out Allegri’s Miserere from memory, is represented by his beautiful Ave verum corpus. It is impossible to omit the Bach-Gounod Ave Maria from a journey that crosses geographical borders and spans the centuries.
PATER NOSTER - A Choral Reflection on the Lord's Prayer
The King's Singers
GRAMMY®-Award winners in 2009, The King’s Singers are one of the world’s most celebrated ensembles. Their programming concept in this disc is unique: built upon the individual clauses of The Lord’s Prayer, beginning and ending in plainchant, it ranges over the centuries to explore the spiritually charged text. Chant is at the heart of the programme, and each composer’s setting illuminates the others, shedding rich interpretative light on the poetic and devotional aspects of the prayer.