Allegri: Miserere

Allegri: Miserere

by Tenebrae


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Tenebrae refers to the gradual extinguishing of candles, one by one, during the last three days in Holy Week, symbolizing Christ's death and three days in the tomb. The choral group Tenebrae, in keeping with this holy tradition, performs only by candlelight, and the resultant darkness impresses live audiences with its gravity, mood, and the lack of distraction it offers from the sound of the choir. Allegri Miserere is the seventh disc that Tenebrae, led by founder Nigel Short, has made for the U.K.-based label Signum, and rather than resorting to a program consisting of atmospheric choral pieces from the Baroque and Renaissance comparable to the title track, frames it with a number of similar selections drawn mostly from twentieth century literature. The main exception to this rule is the inclusion of the "Antonio Lotti Crucifixus," so closely identified with the "Allegri" that its omission would have seemed an oversight. Several of these pieces are choral works that have come to prominence toward the end of the twentieth century, such as Rachmaninov's "Hymn to the Cherubim" and John Tavener's "Song for Athene," which served as a centerpiece in the funeral music used for Princess Diana. Others are more obscure, such as a fabulous piece, "Now ye heavenly powers," taken from a Liturgy of the Sanctified Gifts composed by Russian Count Alexander Sheremetiev. In the blurb on the back of the disc, there are references to Tenebrae's "perfectly blended sound" and "near-flawless technique." There is no argument here against the technique, but certain sectional details are apparent in this recording, some very enjoyable, such as the splendid low tones from the basses in the Sheremetiev, and others that disturb the overall mood a bit, such as a very bright, loud, and penetrating sound from the sopranos. The works themselves might call for such effects, but it can seem a bit overwhelming, for example in the "Lotti." Most of the disc was recorded in St. Jude's on the Hill in Hampstead, London, and very effective use is made of acoustical distance in the title work. The Britten "Hymn to St. Cecilia" may seem a little bright and rather too long in a program made up mostly of somber and serious 3-5 minute pieces, but if you like Britten, that might not be a problem. In sum, Tenebrae's Allegri: Miserere is professionally sung and very nicely recorded and is a recommendable item with the proviso that chances are the listener will gravitate more strongly toward this or that track. It is very good, but some of its parts, as in Orwell's Animal Farm, are "more equal than others."

Product Details

Release Date: 11/28/2006
Label: Signum Uk
UPC: 0635212008522
catalogNumber: 85
Rank: 50510


  1. Song for Athene, for chorus
  2. Ex ore innocentium, for soprano, alto & piano (or organ)
  3. The Lamb, for chorus
  4. Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, for chorus, Op. 31: Hymn to the Cherubim
  5. Nine sili nebesniye (Rejoice Now Heavenly Powers)
  6. Hymn to St. Cecilia, for chorus, Op. 27
  7. Ave Maria
  8. Crucifixus a 8 Voix
  9. Miserere mei Deus (Psalm 51), motet for chorus
  10. Esti Dal (Evening Song), folksong for high voice or mixed or male chorus
  11. The Dying Soldier, for chorus
  12. Psalms (2) for chorus, strings & organ, H. 117: Psalm 148, Lord who has made us for Thine own
  13. Faire Is the Heaven, for chorus

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Tenebrae   Primary Artist

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