William Byrd: Cantiones Sacrae (1575)

“There’s so much wonderful six-part writing in this attractive selection from the 1575 Cantiones Sacrae that such a medium appears in a new light, particularly when performed by the choir and in the acoustic of New College Chapel – where, as Edward Higginbottom reminds us, they ‘have been rehearsing for 500 years’. The beauty and balance of the musical architecture is constantly conveyed to the listener, particularly in the six-part writing. It doesn’t matter whether these compositions were intended for liturgical or domestic use, or as a noble offering to the Queen: from a purely musical point of view they’re superb. To give a single example, the little Vespers hymn O lux, beata Trinitas displays consummate craftsmanship through the ingenious use of the number three – three high, then three low voices, three diverse voices, a canon three-in-one, three strophes, triple time, and so on, building up to a tremendous final ‘Amen’.
The point made by this recording is that it all sounds natural, uncontrived, magnificent. The three organ pieces are a welcome addition: with their brilliant finger-work and gentle registrations they present a charming and lively contrast to the vocal settings.” – Gramophone Classical Music Guide

1. Tribue Domine
2. Siderum rector
3. Domine secundum
4. Fantasia in D (organ)
5. Attollite portas
6. Misere mihi
7. Fantasia in C Major, No. 1
8. Aspice Domine
9. Peccantem me quotidie
10. Salvator mundi II
11. O Lux beata Trinitas

ArtistThe Choir of New College Oxford – directed by Edward Higginbottom
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