Cantate Domino, recorded by legendary sound engineer Bertil Alving in 1976, is widely regarded as one of the greatest audiophile masterpieces ever recorded. Opening with Enrico Bossi's "Cantate Domino" for choir, organ, trumpets and trombones, the choral album includes a number of Swedish folk songs as well as pieces by Handel, Otto Olsson, and others. The famous reference record is now made even better with this new hi-definition release.
The anonymous Mass Cantate Domino for six voices (#1-4) is recorded in an incomplete set of part-books of about 1550, traditionally linked with Dunkeld Cathedral, but more likely originating in the collegiate chapel of Lincluden, Dumfriesshire. Much has had to be done to complete the music: the bass part is missing throughout and three other voices are more or less fragmentary towards the end. The style of the music is 'British decorative' of the earlier sixteenth century with its characteristic mixture of florid and imitative counterpoint. On closer examination, however, the work may be of Scottish origin: the music is directly related to the five-part Mass Fera pessima by Robert Carver, finest Scottish composer of sacred music in the early sixteenth century. I suggest that the present Mass is a reworking of about 1525 for six voices, possibly by Carver himself, of the earlier five-part composition: much thematic material is common to both works, though the six-part shows a more assured technical command. It is a cyclic Mass in the established tradition: each movement opens with the same head-motif and each is based on the same cantus firmus - a plainsong melody, as yet unidentified. Also, traditionally, the music has been arranged to alternate full and solo sections. It is an impressive work, and if by Carver - it is certainly very good Carver.
Paul Hillier’s Theatre of Voices, like the Hilliard Ensemble with whom he was associated before settling in America, have given the music of Arvo Part a prominent place in their repertoire. Hillier has also written a book on Part – from which his notes accompanying this CD are mostly drawn (The Music of Arvo Part; OUP: 1997) – and in the collective interview run in last September’s issue (page 14) he described his first encounter with several of Part’s scores, “Something leapt out at me: this was the kind of music I had been waiting to perform”.
The composers known collectively as the Fiamminghi made their mark in Europe in general and in Italy and in France in particular during the 15th century. Their talent and skill gained them the most important positions in the great musical establishments of the time. This collection is devoted to the leading composers of the 15th century, from those of the first generation (Guillaume Dufay, Gilles Binchois, Arnold de Lantins and Johannes Brassart) through Johannes Ockeghem, the great master of polyphonic technique, to Josquin Desprez and Pierre de La Rue, two musicians taught by Ockeghem who laid the foundations of the Ars Perfecta during the Renaissance. Also included is Jacob Obrecht, the only composer of this school whose career was based essentially in his native Flanders. Every genre of both sacred as well as secular music of the time is represented here.
Heard a track on Radio 3, so bought this as a 'taster' of Pärt's music. A superb introduction, and play it frequently! Born at Paide in Estonia in 1935, a pupil of Heino Eller at Tallinn Conservatory, sometime sound engineer at Estonian Radio, and first prize-winner at the All-Union Young Composers' Competition in Moscow in 1962, Arvo Part, who emigrated to the west with his family in 1980, is one of the leading figures in contemporary music. He had been working with twelve-tone composition and serialism, as well as collage and aleatory techniques, but after a long period of virtual silence when he made a deep and searching study of plainsong, French and Franco-Flemish music of the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, and the traditions of orthodox sacred music, he engaged in a major reassessment of his own style, emerging in 1976 to effect a renewal of his language.