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Sing Thee Nowell - 7 centuries of Christmas with Medieval and Renaissance carols and motets through new works by John Scott & Andrew Smith / New York Polyphony

Album Summary

>Smith, Andrew : Veni Emmanuel, for chorus
>Williams, Geoffrey : Adam lay ybounden, for chorus
>Verdelot, Phillippe : Gabriel Archangelus, motet for 4 voices
>Traditional, Christmas : Gabriel's Message (Basque)
>Traditional, Christmas : There Is No Rose of Such Virtue (English)
>Williams, Geoffrey : There is no Rose (Hereford), for chorus
>Byttering : Nesciens Mater
>Traditional, Irish : O Pia Virgo ( O Blessed Virgin)
>Traditional, Christmas : Nowel
>Smith, Andrew : Nowell
>Bennett, Richard R. : Carols (5), for chorus
>Craig, Alexander : Sleep Now, for chorus
>Victoria, Tomas L. de : O magnum mysterium, motet for 4 voices
>Traditional, Christmas : Quem pastores laudavere (Hohenfurth Manuscript, 1410)
>Pygott, Richard : Quid Petis, O Fili?, carol for 4 voices
>Traditional, Christmas : Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella ("Un flambeau, Jeanette, Isabelle")
>Warlock, Peter [Composer] : Bethlehem Down, for voice & piano
>Clemens Non Papa, Jacobus : Magi veniunt ab oriente
>Redner, Lewis : O Little Town of Bethlehem
Performers Ensemble Composers
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Notes & Reviews:

Nowell, Nowel, Noel - on their new release, Sing thee Nowell, New York Polyphony sings of, and to, the birth of Christ in a typically sophisticated program which fuses the ancient with the modern into a seamless whole. Seven centuries of Christmas passes before the listener with new works composed for these performers by Michael McGlynn, Andrew Smith and John Scott alongside traditional medieval and Renaissance carols and motets by Clemens 'non Papa', Philippe Verdelot and Tomás Luis de Victoria. The wide-ranging sequence is anchored by Richard Rodney Bennett's Five Carols, in which the sopranos Sarah Brailey and Elizabeth Baber Weaver join in celebrating 'the joyful birth' and in praising 'Mary mild', that 'maiden fair and wise'. The wondrous events related to the Christmas story and the joy they bring to mankind naturally dominate, but intimations of Christ's death on the cross also surface in the course of the disc, as in Peter Warlock's Bethlehem Down: 'they will clothe him in grave-sheets, myrrh for embalming, and wood for a crown.' Formed in 2006, New York Polyphony has rapidly emerged as one of the leading vocal chamber ensembles, applying a distinctly modern touch to repertoire that ranges from austere medieval melodies to cutting-edge contemporary compositions. Two previous recordings for BIS have received critical acclaim, including a Grammy nomination for the 2013 release Times go by Turns, interleaving masses by Byrd and Tallis with works from the 21st century.

BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2014
The all-male New York Polyphony sing one-to-a-part, which gives a particular sense of purity and chasteness to their Christmas selection...The vocal blend is consistently velvety, the pitching unerringly accurate.

MusicWeb International, 8th December 2014
The singing is supremely polished and, as I have in the past, I admired the musicianship and professionalism of this ensemble very much. However, I can imagine that some listeners may find it all just a bit too polished.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Chapel at The American Boychoir School, Princeton, New (03/2014).



Reviews

Yearround Pleasure
New York Polyphony's release "Sing Thee Nowell" is a little unusual. Despite its name, this is a release I'll be enjoying throughout the year.

The ensemble's carefully chosen program includes many songs of the season, but few that have been done to death. Even the more familiar carols are heard in new and innovative arrangements.

The disc opens with Andrew Smith's arrangement of "Veni Emmanuel," which highlights the medieval origins of the tune.

From there, the group moves easily through renaissance works from composers such as Verdelot, Victoria, and Clemens "non Papa." They also perform with equal ease contemporary works by composers such Andrew Smith, John Scott, and Michael McGlynn.

A high point of the recording is "Five Carols" by Richard Rodney Bennett. The beautiful and complex harmonies of these carols seem tailor-made for the clear tone and seamless blend of New York Polyphony's ensemble sound.

Most of the works are in Latin, which is why I'll be enjoying this disc all year. Since the seasonal messages of the text are lost on me, I can just listen to the beauty of the performances -- even in the middle of summer.

This album is available in SACD format. If you appreciate vocal artistry, I recommend you purchasing it in this format. The added detail draws you into the ensemble, and you can hear just how good each of these singers are.
Submitted on 12/01/14 by RGraves321 
Rejoice!
From the very first measures, you realize that this is no routine holiday release but a very special project indeed. The material encompasses the basic divisions contained within the Christian narrative: Annunciation, Advent, Nativity and Epiphany. Within the 24 selections, there is a panoply of riches far too extensive to enumerate here. Several of the entries are newly composed utilizing familiar texts, while others are contemporary reworkings of familiar carols incorporating all manner of rhythmic and harmonic seasoning which may confound some listeners and intrigue others. The piquant dissonances on the words, “Gaude, Gaude” in Veni Emanuel are a good illustration. The superb Five Carols composed by Richard Rodney Bennett is a logical addition to a well thought out program spanning nearly seven centuries where each choice works beautifully within the context of the whole. As to the singing of the four male voices which comprises Polyphony, it is impeccable in every important metric, i.e, intonation, blend, phrasing, articulation. The naturally balanced and tonally accurate sonics courtesy of producer, Jens Braun, seal the deal for a release which cannot be recommended too highly.


Submitted on 12/03/14 by Allen Cohen 
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Works Details

>Smith, Andrew : Veni Emmanuel, for chorus
  • Ensemble: New York Polyphony
  • Running Time: 3 min. 18 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Christmas

>Williams, Geoffrey : Adam lay ybounden, for chorus
  • Running Time: 1 min. 33 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Christmas

>Verdelot, Phillippe : Gabriel Archangelus, motet for 4 voices
  • Running Time: 4 min. 26 sec.
  • Period Time: Renaissance
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: 1532

>Traditional, Christmas : Gabriel's Message (Basque)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 14 sec.
  • Period Time: Medieval
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: circa 1582

>Traditional, Christmas : There Is No Rose of Such Virtue (English)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 20 sec.
  • Period Time: Medieval
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: 1420

>Williams, Geoffrey : There is no Rose (Hereford), for chorus
  • Running Time: 2 min. 25 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Christmas

>Traditional, Christmas : There Is No Rose of Such Virtue (English)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 20 sec.
  • Period Time: Medieval
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: 1420

>Byttering : Nesciens Mater
  • Running Time: 1 min. 38 sec.
  • Period Time: Medieval
  • Form: Christmas

>Traditional, Irish : O Pia Virgo ( O Blessed Virgin)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 18 sec.
  • Period Time: Renaissance
  • Form: Christmas

>Traditional, Christmas : Nowel :: Owt of your slepe aryse (English)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 2 sec.
  • Form: Christmas

>Smith, Andrew : Nowell :: Arise and wake, for chorus
  • Running Time: 3 min. 37 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Christmas

>Bennett, Richard R. : Carols (5), for chorus
  • Performers: Elizabeth Baber; Sarah Brailey
  • Running Time: 9 min. 22 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Christmas

>Craig, Alexander : Sleep Now, for chorus
  • Running Time: 1 min. 41 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Christmas

>Tomás Luis de Victoria (Composer) (circa 1548 - 1611) : O magnum mysterium, motet for 4 voices
  • Running Time: 3 min. 40 sec.
  • Period Time: Renaissance
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: 1572

>Traditional, Christmas : Quem pastores laudavere (Hohenfurth Manuscript, 1410)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 41 sec.
  • Period Time: Renaissance
  • Form: Christmas

>Pygott, Richard : Quid Petis, O Fili?, carol for 4 voices
  • Running Time: 5 min. 57 sec.
  • Period Time: Renaissance
  • Form: Christmas

>Traditional, Christmas : Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella ("Un flambeau, Jeanette, Isabelle")
  • Running Time: 2 min. 13 sec.
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: 18th Century

>Warlock, Peter [Composer] : Bethlehem Down, for voice & piano
  • Performers: Elizabeth Baber; Sarah Brailey
  • Running Time: 4 min. 1 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: 1930

>Clemens Non Papa, Jacobus : Magi veniunt ab oriente
  • Running Time: 6 min. 43 sec.
  • Period Time: Renaissance
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: 15th Century

>Redner, Lewis : O Little Town of Bethlehem
  • Running Time: 2 min. 58 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: 1868