Emotional and historical links lie behind the three pairs of works on this new release from Jeremy Backhouse and the Vasari Singers.
James MacMillan's Miserere was written in 2009 with the express purpose of being a companion piece for Gregorio Allegri's famous 17th-century work, known all over the world by the same title.
Gian Francesco Mailipiero and Ildebrando Pizzetti patched up a fractured friendship in the early 20th century by writing very different settings of De profundis as a peace offering for each other.
And Puccini wrote his Requiem to mark the death of Verdi, which was premièred at the great man's memorial service. It received its second performance at the composer's own funeral, at which Pizzetti, a devoted admirer of Puccini, gave the eulogy, having written his own Requiem just two years earlier.
These three pairs of sublime choral settings span well over 350 years. The earliest is Allegri’s Miserere, a work considered so precious it was kept secret until Mozart heard it and famously transcribed it from memory. James MacMillan’s 21st century companion piece is a transcendent reply to this challenge from history. Malipiero’s and Pizzetti’s resumption of a fractured friendship resulted in their mutually dedicated but differing settings of De profundis. Puccini’s brief but exquisite Requiem commemorated the death of Verdi, while Pizzetti, a late admirer of Puccini, revealed his empathy with vocal polyphony in a full setting of the Requiem Mass.
Listen to an extract from James MacMillan's Miserere
About the Artists
Founded over thirty years ago under Jeremy Backhouse, the Vasari Singers is among the leading chamber choirs in Britain. Since winning the prestigious Sainsbury’s Choir of the Year competition in 1988, the choir has performed regularly on the South Bank and at major concert venues in London, as well as in many of the cathedrals and abbeys of the United Kingdom. Together, they have a discography of over 25 recordings. Two recent releases on the Naxos label, Gabriel Jackson’s Requiemand A Winter’s Light, both achieved top ten status in the Specialist Classical Charts.
“...one is in awe before a choir that can turn in magnificent performances of the most serious and taxing works in the repertoire, yet is able to turn its collective hand, with slickness that defies description, to entertaining showstoppers such as [the Swingle Singers' close harmony arrangements].”
– International Record Review
“It would be hard to imagine a choral ensemble turning in finer renditions of this music…Naxos has once again produced a disc that will almost certainly garner a major award or two. The sound on this CD…is vivid. Highly recommended!” – Classical Net