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Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks, Vol. 4 - Robert Jones: Missa Spes nostra; Nicholas Ludford: Ave cujus conceptio; Robert Hunt: Stabat mater / Blue Heron, Scott Metcalfe

Album Summary

>Ludford, Nicholas : Ave Cuius Conceptio
>Chant, Sarum : Kyrie Deus Creator omnium
>Jones, Robert (I) : Missa Spes nostra, for chorus
>Hunt, Robert : Stabat mater, for chorus
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composers
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Notes & Reviews:

Blue Heron is engaged in a long-term project of performing and recording music from the Peterhouse partbooks, a set of manuscripts containing an extensive and mostly neglected repertoire of pre-Reformation English polyphony, much of it of superlative quality, by the most famous composers of the day as well as a host of unknown masters. Volume 4 in the series contains the world premiere recording of the only surviving Mass of Robert Jones, who was employed in the royal chapel during the reign of Henry VIII. Lyrical and mellifluous, the mass is a mature work, revealing a master composer at the height of his power. Nicholas Ludford was unquestionably a marvelous composer; his accomplishments better known today due largely to his music being preserved in some quantity. The completely unknown composer Robert Hunt left behind a stunning work highlighting the drama of the Stabat mater story. "Exemplary ... suffused with elegance and polish, ... intense, expressively heightened... " (The Boston Globe on Volume 3) "Among recent CDs in the polyphonic field, a recording by Blue Heron stands out ..." (The New Yorker)

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: The Church of the Redeemer, Chestnut Hill, Massachusett (2013-10-14_2013-10-15&2013-).



Reviews

Rare renaissance gems
The Blue Heron Choir is on a mission: they want to bring to life music that has gone unheard since the reign of Henry VIII. The Peterhouse Partbooks (stored in Peterhouse College, Cambridge) were compiled in 1540 by Thomas Bull. Written for liturgical use at the Canterbury Cathedral. Since these were performing copies, the music is carefully transcribed with no illuminations or distracting graphic elements.

Bull's collection contains over seventy choral works, fifty of which are unique to the partbooks. The partbooks were only in use for seven years. Under Edward II, professional church choirs were dissolved, and the books stored away and forgotten -- until now.

The center piece of the album is the Missa Spes nostra by Robert Jones. Known more for his lute songs and madrigals, this mass is a masterwork of English renaissance polyphony. Jones shifts back and forth between modes, giving the work a slightly modern sound (at least to my ears).

Also included is a work by Nicholas Ludford, and one by Robert Hunt. Hunt is something of a cipher. Only two of his works are known -- and both only from the Peterhouse Partbooks. His setting of the Stabat mater is expressive and effective, letting the words dictate the course of the music. Perhaps because of that, some of his harmonies are quite surprising, but never out of context. This is a gem that deserves to enter the sacred choral repertoire.

This fourth volume in the Peterhouse Partbooks series continues the same high standards of the previous three. Blue Heron has a smooth ensemble blend, with especially strong sopranos. That's important, as many of these works have wide leaps in the upper registers, which these singers take with apparent ease and hit with laser-like accuracy.

The recording's cleanly recorded, with just the right amount of ambiance to carry the cadences into the following phrases. Yet I never had trouble discerning the various lines as the weave contrapuntally in and out of each other.
Submitted on 09/22/15 by RGraves321 
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Works Details

>Ludford, Nicholas : Ave Cuius Conceptio
  • Performers: Michael Barrett; Mark Sprinkle (Tenor); Sumner Thompson (Voice)
  • Conductor: Scott Metcalfe
  • Ensemble: Blue Heron
  • Notes: The Church of the Redeemer, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts (2013-10-14_2013-10-15&2013-)
  • Running Time: 8 min. 51 sec.
  • Period Time: Renaissance

>Chant, Sarum : Kyrie Deus Creator omnium
  • Performers: Michael Barrett; Mark Sprinkle (Tenor); Sumner Thompson (Voice)
  • Conductor: Scott Metcalfe
  • Ensemble: Blue Heron
  • Notes: The Church of the Redeemer, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts (2013-10-14_2013-10-15&2013-)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 26 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Choral

>Jones, Robert (I) : Missa Spes nostra, for chorus
  • Performers: Michael Barrett; Mark Sprinkle (Tenor); Sumner Thompson (Voice)
  • Conductor: Scott Metcalfe
  • Ensemble: Blue Heron
  • Notes: The Church of the Redeemer, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts (2013-10-14_2013-10-15&2013-)
  • Running Time: 36 min. 36 sec.
  • Period Time: Renaissance

>Hunt, Robert : Stabat mater, for chorus
  • Conductor: Scott Metcalfe
  • Ensemble: Blue Heron
  • Notes: The Church of the Redeemer, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts (2013-10-14_2013-10-15&2013-)
  • Running Time: 17 min. 52 sec.
  • Period Time: Renaissance