• Leading performers of 17th-century music the Magdalena Consort, Fretwork and His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts combine forces under the artistic direction of William Hunt for their second release exploring the English Pre-Restoration Verse Anthem – Psalms and Royal Anthems, particularly those of William Byrd. More than any composer before him, William Byrd catered prolifically to a wide variety of musicians. Connoisseurs of Latin motets at home and abroad, troupes of boy actors with their viols and their unbroken voices, solo keyboard players, the choirs of the established English church, and the underground ensembles of Catholic households where mass was celebrated in secret— performers of all these kinds could look to Byrd for quantities, in some cases vast, of music of the highest excellence.
  • Over thirty years ago, Fretwork made its first recording – well, technically speaking it was the second album to be recorded, but the first to be released – and it was called ‘In nomine’, which consisted mainly of 16th-century examples of this remarkable instrumental form. While this isn’t an anniversary of that release, Fretwork wanted to look both back to that first release and forward, to bring the genre up to date. There were several examples of the In nomine and related forms that couldn’t be recorded in 1987, and this album seeks to complete the project. The form was created unwittingly by John Taverner (1490-1545). His 6-part mass, Gloria tibi Trinitas, is based on the plainchant of that name. In the Sanctus, at the words Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini (Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord), the six-part texture is pared down to two and three parts; and then, with the words in nomine Domini, Taverner makes, for the only time in the mass, a complete statement of the cantus firmus, accompanied by three voices. This four- parts section – very beautiful as it is – must have struck contemporaries as some kind of perfection, to be used as a template, to be emulated and copied. And then those copies were copied and changed again. Typically, an In nomine would have the alto, or second part, playing this cantus firmus in long slow notes of equal length. The other parts would weave counterpoint around it, sometimes commenting upon it, sometimes ignoring it. Typically, the cantus firmus starts and ends on the note D – but there are many exceptions to all these ‘rules’.
  • Until quite recently it was thought that the viola da gamba died with the death of one its most loved exponents, Charles Frederick Abel, in 1787; and that it was literally buried with the composer in St Pancras Old Church, near Kings Cross Station in north London. Then it was believed to have been forgotten, until Arnold Dolmetsch pioneered a revival at the end of the nineteenth century. Not so. In fact, now we know that there has always been someone playing the viol, all through the nineteenth century, and that what Dolmetsch revived was the idea of the viol consort and an interest in the music written for the instrument. So the viol family, developed from a common ancestor of the guitar, the vihuela around the end of the fifteenth century in Spain, has a continuous history from then until the present day, in a similar way to the violin family, which was born around the same time. The programme here seeks to reflect that extended history and bring music written specifically for viols, from whatever century, alongside that which has been arranged for them.
  • Founded in 1973 by Trevor Pinnock, The English Concert has been a leading light in the performance of Baroque and Classical music for for over 40 years. Under their present Artistic Director Harry Bicket and with distinguished guest artists they continue to perform with the passion, sophistication and technical mastery established at their creation.

    Such is the commitment and passion that their players bring to every performance. Drawn not only from home-grown talent, The English Concert can boast a truly international cast of musicians. Soloists in their own right, and backed-up by scholarly knowledge of style and genre, the close-knit relationship between their musicians makes for a truly special blend of sound. This new recording features the talents of these soloists in performances of Concertii by Telemann, Marcello, Dall’Abaco, Tartini and Porpora.

    Performance: ★★★★ Recording: ★★★★★ Here's that increasing rarity: A Baroque disc with no conceptual axe to grind, no over-arching theme - save for giving the members of The English Concert a concerto moment in the sun - and seemingly out to do little more than delight (which it does so in spades) - BBC Music Magazine [Harry] directs from the harpsichord, bringing both vitality and cohesion to the performancesAndrew Benson-Wilson A nice way to spend 70 minutes of your timeGramophone
  • Sibylla

    £12.00

    Literally meaning ‘rooster song’ or ‘cock crow’, Gallicantus takes its name from monastic antiquity; the name of the office held just before dawn, it was a ceremony which evoked the renewal of life offered by the coming day. Dedicated to renaissance music and directed by Gabriel Crouch, the membership of this early music group boasts a wealth of experience in consort singing.

    Renowned for their critically-acclaimed and researched programmes, Gallicantus present Sibylla. At the heart of the programme is Orlandus Lassus’s 16th Century Prophetiae Sibyllarum, which sets to music the texts of ancient Sibylline prophecies telling of the coming of Christ.

    One of the composer’s most renowned and celebrated works, it is performed alongside settings by the ‘Sibyl of the Rhine’ Hildegard von Bingen, as well contemporary responses to Lassus’s work. Dmitri Tymoczko’s Prophetiae Sibyllarum sets poems by Jeff Dolven which recast the sibyls’ role: this time to the teller of grim truths of present life in post-industrial America. As an epilogue the album finishes with Elliot Cole’s ‘I saw you under the fig tree’ (part of his suite Visions) – a simple 4-part setting beneath an extraordinary countertenor glissando, setting Jesus Christ’s response to Nathaniel.

    ★★★★★ The extraordinary Gallicantus sing with micrometrical precise articulation and flawless pitching - Choir and Organ This CD is evidence of an intimate understanding of this challenging music and is as fine an account of the score as has been committed to CD to date - Early Music Review
  • The prodigious Norwegian treble Aksel Rykkvin returns to disc on Signum with a new disc of Baroque works, accompanying the MIN Ensemble under trumpeter Mark Bennett and the ensemble director Lazar Miletic. Featuring both instrumental pieces and excerpts from operas and oratorios by Handel, Rameau, Albinoni and Rittler, this disc further documents Aksel’s unique talent as a performer and interpreter of Baroque music. Rykvin's polished technique and confident musical personality yield a lovely account of Télaire's lament Gramophone Vocal maturity, superb tuning and breath control are quite outstanding - Cathedral Music Magazine A thoroughly enjoyable collection and those that appreciate Baroque music will be thrilled by what is on offer - Cross Rhythms Light Divine further documents Aksel’s unique talent as a performer and interpreter of Baroque music. A mustNorthern Echo
  • Leading performers of 17th-century music Fretwork, His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts and the Magdalena Consort (directed by Peter Harvey) combine forces under the artistic direction of William Hunt for this rst complete recording of the consort anthems of Orlando Gibbons. Gibbons’ music is one of the artistic glories of the rst Stuart reign. Amongst his sacred compositions, verse anthems such as is is the record of John and Behold, thou hast made my days are long acknowledged masterpieces, amongst the greatest in all English sacred music, but best known to most in their setting for choir and organ. Here they are presented together with an array of other great anthems, some of them scarcely known, in their more intricate and colourful versions for consort accompaniment. Following the instruction of such contemporary writers as Morley and Caccini, these radical new performances place communication of text at the forefront, seeking to rediscover the dramatic essence of the verse anthem that made it arguably the most effective musical creation of the English Reformation. With the incisive declamatory skill of several of the UK’s leading period performers, they reveal the extraordinary rhetorical and poetic power of this music, as it might have been heard in the Chapel Royal and the private domestic chapels of early 17th century England. ★★★★★ Subtle, seductively supple and sinuous singing and playing… Volume 2 from this dream-team will be eagerly awaitedChoir and Organ  ★★★★★ This is the finest recording of this quintessentially English music that we are likely to have…  a real treat, and an impressive master-class in how these texts should be declaimedEarly Music Review Gibbons at his most alluring: a glorious fusion of the intimate and ceremonial in richly-voiced, warmhearted performances - BBC Radio 3 Thomas Morley's lovely phrase evoking music's ability to link earthly listeners to heavenly contemplationThe Times The effect, in the three In nomines recorded here, is of uncanny beauty, familiar notes polished up to a new sheen and lustre - Gramophone
  • London Early Opera continue their programme themed around a typical evening’s entertainment at the 17th & 18th century Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, with a second collection of works by George Frideric Handel and contemporary composers of the day (John Stanley, Thomas Gladwin, John Lampe and Johann Adolph Hasse). Featuring performances by soloists Claire Bessent, Mary Bevan, Benjamin Bevan, Eleanor Dennis, Charles MacDougale, Nicky Spence and Greg Tassell, the programme evokes the carnival of music and entertainments that amused visitors in these London gardens for nearly 200 years. The booklet notes feature images and expert commentaries on the Vauxhall Gardens by author David E. Coke and as well as conductor and musicologist Bridget Cunningham. Claire Bessent’s lovely ‘There sweetest flowers of mingled hue’ is amply worth the price of admissionGramophone A must for early music devotees - Northern Echo  
  • Bridget Cunningham marks St Patrick’s Day with a new harpsichord CD that gives a glimpse into Handel’s fascinating time in Dublin. In 1741 at the age of 56, following a financially difficult time in London and with fashions turning against Italian opera, Handel went to Dublin for 9 months – a thriving musical city and the 2nd largest in the British Isles after London. The story of this fascinating trip is told in both music and detailed accompanying notes by harpsichordist and musicologist Bridget Cunningham. This disc is part of Cunningham’s ongoing series with the ensemble London Early Opera, which has already seen releases of several volumes of Handel’s music, including Handel in Italy and Handel at Vauxhall.
  • Early music consort Contrapunctus return to disc on Signum for the second release in their series centred on music of the Baldwin Partbooks (In the Midst of Life, SIGCD408). John Baldwin was a member of the choir of St George’s chapel, Windsor, and his transcriptions during the 1570s and 80s create one of the greatest surviving collections of Marian polyphony, composed during the reigns of Henry VIII and Mary Tudor. This volume explores texts celebrating Mary as mother of God, and on the Virgin and her Child.
    Contrapunctus, led by Owen Rees, couple powerful interpretations with pioneering scholarship. Currently Vocal Consort in Residence at Oxford University, the ensemble’s first two recordings, Libera nos and In the Midst of Life, were both shortlisted for the Gramophone Early Music Award.
  • Gallicantus perform music surrounding the fascinating yet tragic story of Queen Mary Tudor’s ‘phantom pregnancy’. On 30th April 1555 the city of London celebrated the birth of a healthy male heir, but abruptly ceased the next day after the news was revealed to be nothing but rumour. There was to be no heir, with gossip and speculation surrounding the tale of Mary’s pregnancy from that day onwards.
    The music performed here resonates with the circumstances of the mid-1550s, including items composed outside of Mary’s reign; from the royal ceremonies in which Mary participated as queen, and music directly tied to the specific events of 1554-5. This includes a newly-reconstructed Litany which was performed during Mary’s assumed pregnancy. The viewpoint shifts from the streets of London and its suburbs, through the ceremonial grandeur of the royal palaces and their chapels, to the intimacy of the Privy Chamber itself.
  • VOCES8 and Les Inventions shine a light on a hidden musical treasure in these world-premiere recordings of Charles Avison’s 1757 adaptation of Benedetto Marcello’s Estro-poetico armonico. A fresh and original collection, Marcello’s Psalm settings were composed in Venice and quickly found fame across Europe after their publication between 1724 and 1726. ★★★★★ The results are wholly delightful and absorbing, and the intimate forces of VOCES8 and Les Inventions are completely at home in this repertoire - Choir & Organ ★★★★ With their vivid word-setting and lively declamation, the English texts give a slightly homespun quality to the enterprise. Well sung, there's a striking triple canon with Latin text to finish - The Observer ★★★★ Marcello's masterpiece receives...world premiere recording here by VOCES8, accompanied by the organ, recorder and strings of French early-music ensemble Les Inventions - The Independent Very polished - BBC Radio 3 CD Review A nice variety of vocal colours and a lovely blend make for a convincing representation of Marcello's largely unknown masterpiece Estro poetico-armonico. More please - Early Music Review
  • London Early Opera perform a unique programme of Handel’s Italian-inspired works, devised by conductor Bridget Cunningham and featuring a unique family collaboration from from world-renowned soprano sisters Sophie Bevan and Mary Bevan alongside their uncle, bass Benjamin Bevan. Editor's Pick: This is as polished an account as any on account of Sophie Bevan's unerring sense of decorum for what each movement requires Gramophone The quality of the musicianship is highBBC Music Magazine A dazzling disc from the Bevan siblingsThe Observer An enjoyable showcase for Mary, Sophie and Benjamin Bevan - The Sunday Times A pleasant compilation, showcasing the considerable vocal talents of three of the Bevan familyEarly Music Review
  • Purcell’s ever-green chamber opera Dido & Aeneas, its story drawn from Virgil’s epic, the Aeneid, is performed by the Armonico Consort with an astounding selection of soloists. Armonico Consort is one of the largest and most innovative organisations of its kind in the UK, existing to inspire audiences with its unique programmes. ★★★★ Lithe, colourful, tastefully phrased and dynamically astute playing...[the cast] sing compellingly and inhabit their roles with the same sensitivity that distinguishes the whole performanceThe Daily Telegraph
    A clean, uncluttered account featuring crystalline voices, good diction, safe tempos and well-defined phrasing...vocal ensembles are luminous and the instrumental playing is bright and streamlined. Best of all is Rachael Lloyd's dignified Dido, rich-voiced, poetic and flawlessly deliveredThe Guardian The Armonico Consort and its musical director, Christopher Monks, capture this abundance of inspiration in a performance full of life and variety...Rachael Lloyd's dignified Dido and Elin Manahan Thomas's bright Belinda are well contrastedFinancial Times This small-scale version of Purcell's evergreen masterpiece has much to commend itEarly Music Today
  • The Gabrieli’s first Handel recording in over a decade is particularly special, recreating in painstaking detail the very first performance of L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, given in 1740, with additional instrumental repertoire including a Handel organ concerto and two concerti grossi. With a reputation as peerless Handelians, Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort & players bring meticulous research to every performance and recording project, and are joined on this disc by a stunning selection of soloists.
    ★★★★★ This is quite simply life-enhancing music making, a glorious achievement in every respect - Early Music Today ★★★★★ McCreesh finds all the expressive opportunities in a blissful production, at times breathtakingly beautiful - Choir & Organ ★★★★★ The choral elements are scrupulously handled by the Gabrieli Consort - BBC Music Magazine McCreesh's superb Gabrieli Consort and Players present all this...with flair, a pristine sense of style and infectious energy - The Times Handel's ravishing score [is] realised to perfection by Paul McCreesh and Gabrieli... A glorious recording - The Observer
  • The King’s Singers perform the complete Italian madrigal collection Il Trionfo di Dori. Commissioned by Venetian nobleman Leonardo Sanudo in 1592, the collection features 29 works, each written by a different composer and poet, and set for nine voices. Among them are Vecchi, Gabrieli, Marenzio, de Monte, Striggio, Anerio, Gastoldi, Porta and Palestrina.
    ★★★★★ The King's Singers bring this great monument of Italian music history to striding life - Sinfini Music ★★★★★ The King’s Singers are on top form, singing with a sunny freshness appropriate to this happy music, blending beautifully, and moving as one into crescendos and decrescendos, ranging in dynamic from a whispering pianissimo to declamatory episodes of high drama - Early Music Review It is hard to imagine a group with greater potential to do justice to this music of love and mythology than they - Gramophone The King's Singers turn out their characteristic, highly polished finish: diction is razor-sharp, ensemble and intonation are well-nigh flawless - BBC Music Magazine A masterclass in delicate phrasing, elegant lines, exemplary Italian and effortless madrigalian expression with standards of intonation to languish after...delizioso - Choir & Organ If you have to make a single choice The King's Singers will appeal more and it's also beautifully recorded in a venue, which is at least new to this reviewer - Music Web International