- Salve Regina, antiphon for 5 voices & continuo
- Magnificat, vesper-psalm for solo voices, chorus, orchestra & continuo in D major (Vesperae Longiores I/6), C. 18
- Sancta Maria, mater Dei, motet
- Ave maris stella, for 4 voices
- Mystery Sonata, for violin & continuo No. 1 in D minor ("The Annunciation"), C. 90
- Laudate Dominum, vesper-psalm for solo voices, chorus, orchestra & continuo in A major (Vesperae Longiores I/4), C. 17
- Laudate Pueri, vesper-psalm for solo voices, chorus, orchestra & continuo in D major (Vesperae Longiores I/4), C. 16
- Beatus Vir, vesper-psalm for soloists, chorus, orchestra & continuo in G major (Vesperae Longiores I/3), C. 15
- Sonata for violin, 2 violas & continuo No. 8 in B flat major (Fidicinium Sacro-Profanum No. 8), C. 85
- Confitebor, vesper-psalm for soloists, chorus, orchestra & continuo in B minor (Vesperae Longiores I/2), C. 14
- Dixit Dominus, vesper-psalm for soloists, chorus, orchestra & continuo in D major (Vesperae Longiores I/1), C. 13
- Domine ad adjuvandum me festina, for 4 voices & continuo
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These Vespers settings by Heinrich Biber were recorded in 2004 in a couple of churches in Connecticut and New York, featuring the Yale Schola Cantorum and its founder and director, Simon Carrington, together with the Yale Collegium Players. The best news from the performance standpoint is that this young group, composed of Yale graduate students and undergraduates, sounds terrific, with four little-known but fine soloists. The light texture of the voices works beautifully in Baroque choral music, whose original choristers would also likely have been youthful. The group is not even drawn from music-student ranks but is open to all Yale students by audition, and Carrington showed that a well-rehearsed American choir could achieve results fully on a par with their European counterparts. The directorship of the choir has since passed to Japanese Bach master Masaaki Suzuki, and this recording whets the appetite for the music they will produce together. What you get here is something of modest dimensions, but unusual and beautifully done. The "Vesperae longiores ad breviores," published in 1693, are not of a piece with the composer's splendid and gigantic masses; instead, they're more intimate pieces. They do not have the experimental quality of Biber's so-called "Rosary" sonatas for solo violin, but they have the same inward, reflective quality, and the inclusion of one of those sonatas here effectively fits the mood. Biber's work has been incompletely transmitted, and Carrington fills it out with appropriate music by other composers. One of these is a simple but lovely "Ave maris stella" setting by the Habsburg emperor Leopold I. Another highlight is a compact, highly expressive "Magnificat" by Biber (track 11). The album was a good pick for reissue by Germany's Carus label, for it makes a significant contribution to the slowly evolving understanding of one of the 17th century's key composers.
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Evening worship services known as vespers prescribe traditional sections, psalms, and hymns in performance. Since Heinrich Biber provided only the psalms in his 1693 setting of these vesper services, this collection includes compositions by Mayr, Leopold I, and Legrenzi to present a definitive set. The Yale Schola Cantorum and Yale Collegium Players under the direction of Simon Carrington perform a marvel to be admired and imitated by devoted students of excellent music performance. Melissa Hughes controls every note, nuance, phrase, and sentiment in every section she sings with color and expression. She never reaches for a pitch, as she is already precisely in the correct place to express it. The other singers also bring accuracy and expression to their parts, especially tenor Derek Chester. Instrumentalists provide the epitome of excellence under Robert Mealy, with Stephen Fraser at the organs of St. Mary¿s in New Haven and St. Michael¿s in New York. Mr. Mealy has become widely known for his expertise in early violin music, with more than 50 CDs to his credit. The aficionado is referred to the website in his own name for more information and background. The accompanying booklet explains the organization of the Vespers service and its components, and provides the Latin text with German and English translations. It is an excellent reference for discovering fine details and explanations. But the beauty is in the music. The Mayr Domine ad adjuvandum, performed a capella by the choir, establishes at once the beautiful tone which prevails throughout the performance. Tracks 9 and 10 let the audience delight in the lovely soprano voice once more. Biber¿s Dixit Dominus, again introduced by soprano and including countertenor and instruments, is the North American premiere. If so much care is taken to inform the listener of this, why then is the German translation listed first? The entire CD presentation makes an eye-opening concert experience. Any part of it would be most welcome in a concert of fine voices and instruments. These performances establish a standard which most musicians can aspire to and hope for at the pinnacle of their careers. The scholastic preparation, research and documentation, and professional performance all contribute to a joyous expression of the Vesper service.