Notes & Reviews:
Westminster Cathedral. Easter Lamentations. Palestrina. You can almost smell the incense before unwrapping this enticing new recording from the established masters of the genre. Palestrina composed four sets of Lamentations, the third of which is recorded here. This most opulent of liturgies runs as a continuous narrative describing momentous biblical events from the last supper through to Christ's crucifixion and death. Throughout the centuries, composers of sacred music have aspired to do justice to this most dramatic of scenarios and Palestrina's settings rank amongst the finest. He employs a rich harmonic palette, constantly varying the vocal texture and using up to seven voice-parts simultaneously.
'Among the many other things for which the independent record company Hyperion deserves our gratitude is its long-standing engagement of Westminster Cathedral Choir, England's finest Catholic choir, to record the masterpieces of sacred polyphony ... Palestrina's third of his four settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah is marked by sinuous vocal lines, harmonic richness, unpredictable modality and telling passages of homophonic writing ... Martin Baker rightly emphasises the classical perfection of Palestrina's polyphony ... As usual, Hyperion's engineers have worked miracles with the difficult acoustics of Westminster Cathedral. Jon Dixon contributes a first-rate booklet essay, which helpfully situates the performance of Lamentations within the complex rituals of Holy Week celebrations' (International Record Review)
'Everything about this disc, from the captivating sound to the sleeve notes, is of the highest quality. A must for choral fans' (Classic FM Magazine)
'A pleasing stability of tone ... The overall effect ... is reverential, moving and warmly recorded' (BBC Music Magazine)
'So highly charged is the grief-stricken atmosphere of these sets of Lamentations for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday that it may be best to listen to them one at a time. This will also allow Palestrina's restrained response to these harrowing texts, which evokes the vision of a devastated landscape and its persecuted people, to make its deepest impression. Flowing polyphony for the introductory Hebrew letters and "Jerusalem convertere" refrains gives way to a bleaker, largely chordal style for the Lamentation verses. Palestrina avoids graphic wordpainting, creates his effects with carefully placed dissonances, and varied voice-groupings. But it is Westminster Cathedral Choir's beautifully judged dynamics, from hushed horror to violent bitterness as Jerusalem's foes gloat over her destruction, that stand out with searing intensity' (Daily Telegraph)
'Martin Baker's choir of men and boys show why this is one of the finest choirs around, with impeccable intonation and strength to convey the full majesty of Palestrina's sublime compositions. The men show how versatile they are, interweaving in and out of the aprts, adding to the elegant and polished phrases. This choir is the leading Catholic ensemble in the world and this disc proves it. Quite simply this is glorious music sung by a magnificent choir. There's not much more I can write, except 'most definitely recommended' (Cathedral Music)
'Beautifully executed ... Highly recommended' (Fanfare, USA)
'A new Palestrina recording by the Westminster Cathedral Choir is always cause for rejoicing' (CD Hotlist)
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Works DetailsPalestrina, Giovanni : Lectio III, Feria V in Cona Domini. Iod - Manum suam misit hostis
- Notes: Westminster Cathedral, London, England (07/10/2006-07/12/2006)
- Running Time: 77 min. 10 sec.
- Period Time: Renaissance
- Written: 1588