Owen Rees leads early-music consort Contrapunctus alongside The Choir of The Queen’s College, Oxford in performances of John Taverner’s masterwork, the Missa Gloria tibi trinitas. A virtuosic work, it has pride of place in the Forrest-Heyther partbooks (in the Bodleian Library in Oxford), which it has been variously argued originated at Cardinal College or at the Chapel Royal. It might well have been heard on Trinity Sunday in the chapel of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey’s palace at Hampton Court.
The work is accompanied by other sacred choral works by Taverner, including his Ave Maria composed for Wolsey’s Cardinal College, Oxford, and one of his most widely copied works, Gaude plurimum – a dramatic work where Taverner exploits the power of his full forces to evoke Christ’s harrowing of hell and the breaking of ‘the bloody powers of the prince of eternal death.’
Contrapunctus is an early-music vocal ensemble dedicated to passionate interpretations informed by authoritative insight and understanding. Directed by Owen Rees, a specialist in music of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the group presents imaginative programmes revealing previously undiscovered musical treasures and throwing new light on familiar works.
Performance ★★★★ Recording ★★★★★ Rees brings together both of his crack ensembles [and] the 40-strong collective recreates [Taverner’s] lavish sound – BBC Music Magazine
★★★★★ Rees has a natural affinity for this music, whether underlining differences of mood, allowing phrases to bloom or deftly judging cadential arrivals, his touch is instinctive – Classical Source
★★★★★ [A] thrilling new recording – Planet Hugill
9/10 Between them the music of John Taverner comes alive and whether your interest is in Tudor polyphony of acappella choral singing this release will bring much pleasure – Cross Rhythms
This glorious programme of polyphony by John Taverner offers much opportunity for contrast as delicate, sinuous passages of vocal chamber music open up into densely populated choral vistas – Choir & Organ
The full ensemble brings an undeniable grandeur – Gramophone
A must for early music devotees – The Northern Echo
A very fine album – MusicWeb International
Beautifully recorded by Signum, this is a novel and beautiful Tudor choral release – AllMusic