Edmund Rubbra: Tenebrae Nocturns, Op. 72; Missa Cantuariensis, Op. 59; Three Motets, Op. 76; Five Motets, Op. 37

Edmund Rubbra: Tenebrae Nocturns, Op. 72; Missa Cantuariensis, Op. 59; Three Motets, Op. 76; Five Motets, Op. 37

by The SixteenThe Sixteen


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The choral music of mid-20th century British composer Edmund Rubbra, who, like Arvo Pärt, was influenced by the sound of bells, is not exactly unknown, and the large work here, the "Missa Cantuariensis, Op. 59," had been previously recorded by the Choir of St. John's College, Cambridge, and by St. Margaret's Westminster Singers when this album by The Sixteen and its leader Harry Christophers appeared in 2016. That double-choir work was composed for Canterbury Cathedral in 1945, prior to Rubbra's conversion to Catholicism in 1947, and it has a wider, less personal scope than most of the smaller works on the program. Yet even in this work there is an inward quality to Rubbra's music, evident not only in its overall tone but in its neither-tonal-nor-atonal harmonic procedures, which give each piece its own set of rules and sonorities. The Sixteen (here bulked up to between 18 and 25 singers) are ideal for this music, even if some of it may have originally been written with larger choirs in mind. Sample some of the serious "Tenebrae" motets, where Christophers captures the devotional quality of the music in a way that one of the collegiate chapel choirs might not. Another advantage of the program is that it spans almost three decades, thus making a good introduction to Rubbra's choral pieces and the increasingly introverted quality they took on as the modernist diktat forced listeners to choose between serial and tonal, and Rubbra was largely, except for periodic performances of his 11 symphonies, left by the wayside. This music is not exactly The Sixteen's bread and butter, but they do it proud and make a case for a forgotten repertory.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/09/2016
Label: Coro
UPC: 0828021614422
catalogNumber: 16144
Rank: 246024


  1. Missa cantuariensis, Op. 59
  2. Motets (5) for chorus, Op. 37
  3. Motets (3) for chorus, Op 76
  4. Tenebrae, Op 72

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