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The Sixteen Edition - Bright Orb of Harmony - Purcell, MacMillan

Album Summary

>Purcell, Henry : Jehova, quam multi sunt, Z 135
>Purcell, Henry : Miserere Mei ("Canon 4 in 2"), canon for 4 voices, Z. 109
>Purcell, Henry : Remember not, Lord, our offences, Z 50
>Purcell, Henry : Beati omnes, hymn, for soprano, bass, chorus & continuo, Z. 131
>MacMillan, James : O bone Jesu, for a cappella chorus
>Purcell, Henry : Let mine eyes run down with tears, anthem for soloists, chorus & organ, Z. 24
>MacMillan, James : Mitte manum tuam, motet for chorus (Strathclyde Motet)
>MacMillan, James : A Child's Prayer, for treble, chorus & organ
>MacMillan, James : Sedebit Dominus Rex, motet for chorus (Strathclyde Motet)
>Purcell, Henry : O dive custos
>Purcell, Henry : In the midst of life
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composers

Notes & Reviews:

2009 is a year of anniversaries - the 350th anniversary of Henry Purcell's birth (1659), James MacMillan's 50th birthday (July 16), and The Sixteen's 30th anniversary! To celebrate, the ensemble has recorded a brand new disc of live music dedicated to these most innovative of British composers.

Purcell's extraordinary use of harmony sounds as modern today as it must have sounded in the seventeenth century. Putting his heartfelt Funeral Sentences alongside James MacMillan's powerfully emotive A Child's Prayer, written in memory of the Dunblane Tragedy, and his hauntingly beautiful O bone Jesu (a piece originally commissioned by The Sixteen) will give the listener the chance to experience the true power of this music.

"Throughout, the choral sound is rich yet unfailingly transparent... the solo work is equally impressive - listen for example, to tenors Simon Berridge and Mark Dobell and bass Eamonn Dougan in Purcell's Let mine eyes run down with tears or sopranos Grace Davidson and Charlotte Mobbs in the same composer's splendid O dive custos. ..."Bright Orb of Harmony" deserves to be set among that constellation of previous dazzling recordings by an ensemble that is less a choir, more an institution." -Gramophone Magazine

"Purity of voice, a tightly blended ensemble - the warming characteristics of Harry Christophers's choir dominate this live recital, recorded in Guildford Cathedral. Four hundred years separate Purcell from James MacMillan, yet these composers suit each other, both skilled in penitential expression and harmonic daring. MacMillan commemorates the 1996 Dunblane shootings; the teenage Purcell writes Funeral Sentences - exquisite music in both cases." -The Times ****

"Purcell's funeral and penitential liturgical settings contain some of the most heart-rending music in the choral repertory. MacMillan's tribute to his 16th century fellow-Scot O bone Jesu... holds up well, building to a glowing ending which, like all the MacMillan pieces on this disc, shows how deeply this composer understands the expressive and acoustic possibilities of the a cappella choir. Best of all though is the exquisite miniature A Child's Prayer. Excellent performances, sensitively recorded." -BBC Music Magazine *****

"These performances were recorded live during the opening concert of The Sixteen's 2009 Choral Pilgrimage to celebrate both Purcell's 350th birthday and Scottish composer James MacMillan's 50th. Thus, while the anthems, motets and the first set of Funeral Sentences by Purcell presented here definitely tend towards the sombre, and MacMillan's musical language often has recourse to a stark muscularity, the darkness invariably gives way to light in the form of ecstatic melismas and lucent major-mode harmonies.

Throughout, the choral sound is rich yet unfailingly transparent - as obvious in the opening Jehova quam multi sunt hostes mei of Purcell as in MacMillan's masterly O bone Jesu. But the solo work is equally impressive - listen, for example, to tenors Simon Berridge and Mark Dobell and bass Eamonn Dougan in Purcell's Let mine eyes run down with tears or sopranos Grace Davidson and Charlotte Mobbs in the same composer's splendid O dive custos.

Christophers's direction is, as always, forever alert to the relationship between words and music - especially close with these two composers - while ensuring the careful delineation of the overall musical structure and each phrase, period and paragraph within it. Some minor blemishes aside, 'Bright Orb of Harmony' deserves to be set among that constellation of previous dazzling recordings by an ensemble that is less a choir, more an institution." -Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010



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Works Details

>Purcell, Henry : Jehova, quam multi sunt, Z 135
  • Performers: Stuart Young; Mark Dobell (Tenor)
  • Conductor: Harry Christophers
  • Ensemble: The Sixteen (Choir)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 17 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Vocal
  • Written: circa 1680
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Purcell, Henry : Miserere Mei ("Canon 4 in 2"), canon for 4 voices, Z. 109
  • Conductor: Harry Christophers
  • Ensemble: The Sixteen (Choir)
  • Running Time: 1 min. 14 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Purcell, Henry : Remember not, Lord, our offences, Z 50
  • Conductor: Harry Christophers
  • Ensemble: The Sixteen (Choir)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 2 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Choral
  • Written: circa 1681
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Purcell, Henry : Beati omnes, hymn, for soprano, bass, chorus & continuo, Z. 131
  • Performers: Elin Thomas (Soprano); Eamonn Dougan (Baritone)
  • Conductor: Harry Christophers
  • Ensemble: The Sixteen (Choir)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 39 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Written: circa 1680
  • Studio/Live: Live

>MacMillan, James : O bone Jesu, for a cappella chorus
  • Performers: Elin Thomas (Soprano); Ben Davies (Tenor); Mark Dobell (Tenor)
  • Conductor: Harry Christophers
  • Ensemble: The Sixteen (Choir)
  • Running Time: 10 min. 14 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Choral
  • Written: 2002
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Purcell, Henry : Let mine eyes run down with tears, anthem for soloists, chorus & organ, Z. 24
  • Performers: Eamonn Dougan (Baritone); Simon Berridge (Tenor); Mark Dobell (Tenor)
  • Conductor: Harry Christophers
  • Ensemble: The Sixteen (Choir)
  • Running Time: 8 min. 17 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Choral
  • Written: circa 1678
  • Studio/Live: Live

>MacMillan, James : Mitte manum tuam, motet for chorus (Strathclyde Motet)
  • Conductor: Harry Christophers
  • Ensemble: The Sixteen (Choir)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 14 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Studio/Live: Live

>MacMillan, James : A Child's Prayer, for treble, chorus & organ
  • Performers: Kirsty Hopkins; Grace Davidson (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Harry Christophers
  • Ensemble: The Sixteen (Choir)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 59 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Studio/Live: Live

>MacMillan, James : Sedebit Dominus Rex, motet for chorus (Strathclyde Motet)
  • Conductor: Harry Christophers
  • Ensemble: The Sixteen (Choir)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 28 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Purcell, Henry : O dive custos
  • Performers: Charlotte Mobbs (Soprano); Grace Davidson (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Harry Christophers
  • Ensemble: The Sixteen (Choir)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 7 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Written: 1694-1695
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Purcell, Henry : In the midst of life
  • Conductor: Harry Christophers
  • Ensemble: The Sixteen (Choir)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 41 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Studio/Live: Live