Taverner: Western Wind Mass

Taverner: Western Wind Mass

by Paul Hillier
     
 

The peripatetic English-born conductor Paul Hillier, who has led many a superb performance of a cappella Renaissance music in both Europe and the U.S., now lives in Denmark and here joins forces with the 16-member choir Ars Nova Copenhagen. Hillier often performs Renaissance masses in a historically authentic way, with smaller pieces interspersed among its sections as… See more details below

Overview

The peripatetic English-born conductor Paul Hillier, who has led many a superb performance of a cappella Renaissance music in both Europe and the U.S., now lives in Denmark and here joins forces with the 16-member choir Ars Nova Copenhagen. Hillier often performs Renaissance masses in a historically authentic way, with smaller pieces interspersed among its sections as they would have been in an actual celebration of the mass (composers for the most part set only the unchanging Ordinary sections of the mass, while chants or other polyphonic compositions were used in connection with the seasonally variable Proper sections). The effectiveness of this in a modern context varies according to the work involved, but Hillier's practice has rarely been more appealing than on this disc. The large work performed here is the "Western Wind Mass" of John Taverner, a cantus firmus mass based on a secular song that was exceptionally sexy in an English context ("Christ, if my love were in my arms/And I in my bed again"). This mass, and its companion works (by Sheppard and Tye) are large works, overflowing with realizations of the possibilities of what were then new polyphonic textures, and a bit undifferentiated from the standpoint of the modern listener. This is where Hillier's breaking up of the mass serves its purpose: the smaller "partsongs" -- simple motets, really -- he places in between the mass sections set off the grandeur of the mass and clarify the expressive range of Taverner's musical vocabulary as a whole. The English-language shorter pieces here, by William Cornysh, the given-name-less Sheryngham, John Browne, Christopher Tye, and an anonymous composer, have stark, vivid sacred texts reminiscent of the poetry of George Herbert ("Woefully arrayed/My blood, man/For thee ran/It may not be nayed/My body blo [blue] and wan/Woefully arrayed"). They are set in direct, plain textures, with a strongly expressive aspect. Sample track 8, Sheryngham's "Ah, gentle Jesu," for a unique dialogic setting. The variety of these short pieces helps the listener hear what Taverner was aiming toward in the mass -- maximum richness of texture. The richness is matched by the sonic ambiance of Copenhagen's St. Paul's Church, a vast space that tosses the sounds of the little group of choristers from corner to corner. Hillier steps out to the edge, but not over it, in letting the edges of the individual voices show through the texture -- the choir's sound is lush rather than pure, and it works beautifully in this repertory. If you've had trouble warming up to the music of the early English Renaissance in the past, this is the disc for you.

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Product Details

Release Date:
09/26/2006
Label:
Marco Polo
UPC:
0636943605028
catalogNumber:
8226050
Rank:
264899

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Kyrie "Leroy", for 4 voices  - John Taverner  - Paul Hillier  -  Ars Nova Copenhagen
  2. Mass "The Western Wind", for 4 voices: Gloria  - John Taverner  - Paul Hillier  -  Ars Nova Copenhagen
  3. Woffully Arraid for 4 voices  - William Cornysh  - Paul Hillier  -  Ars Nova Copenhagen
  4. Mass "The Western Wind", for 4 voices: Credo  - John Taverner  - Paul Hillier  -  Ars Nova Copenhagen
  5. Ah, my dear, ah, my dear Son!  - Christmas Traditional  - Paul Hillier  -  Ars Nova Copenhagen
  6. Mass "The Western Wind", for 4 voices: Sanctus  - John Taverner  - Paul Hillier  -  Ars Nova Copenhagen
  7. Mass "The Western Wind", for 4 voices: Benedictus  - John Taverner  - Paul Hillier  -  Ars Nova Copenhagen
  8. Ah, Gentle Jesu  -  Sheryngham  - Paul Hillier  -  Ars Nova Copenhagen
  9. Mass "The Western Wind", for 4 voices: Agnus Dei  - John Taverner  - Paul Hillier  -  Ars Nova Copenhagen
  10. Jesu, Mercy, How May This Be?  - John Browne  - Paul Hillier  -  Ars Nova Copenhagen
  11. In pace in idipsum  - Christopher Tye  - Paul Hillier  -  Ars Nova Copenhagen

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