A Wondrous Mystery - Renaissance Choral Music for Christmas (2015)

Clemens non Papa, Hassler, Eccard, Handl, Praetorius

Stile Antico

With its centuries-old traditions of singing angels, piping shepherds, and the natural necessity for the Christ-child to be sung a lullaby (all, of course, embellishments to the comparatively stark and gritty biblical narratives in which even the angels speak rather than sing!), the celebration of the nativity of Christ has over the centuries come to provide a fertile source of inspiration for composers and musicians. The Christmas music in this present programme is gathered from some of the most highly regarded European composers of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, working in both the Roman Catholic and Lutheran church traditions. The latter yielded predominantly German-texted carols, often with a popular flavour and in simpler settings, while the former produced Latin polyphony. Running as a thread through the programme is Clemens’s Christmas mass based on the motet Pastores quidnam vidistis, while Praetorius’s Magnificat draws strongly on both traditions.
Though there are significant gaps in our knowledge about his life, Jacobus Clemens (whose designation ‘non Papa’ seems to have been a joke which stuck rather than a necessary disambiguator) was one of the most prolific composers of the early to mid-16th century, especially considering his comparatively short life. Though we know little about the circumstances surrounding the composition of the mass setting included here, it is without doubt a work of distinction. Clemens’s practice was almost invariably to base his masses on an existing motet or chanson using parody technique; this work is no exception, taking the composer’s own Christmas five-part motet of the same name as its model. In spite of a fair degree of motivic development, there is the sense of a tightly-knit relationship between the mass and its source, strengthened by the distinctive modal writing and the clarity of Clemens’s five-part counterpoint, augmented by one voice only in the Agnus, and decreased to three parts for the Benedictus – both common features of masses from this period. Certain distinctive musical features in the motet receive prominent treatment during the mass – perhaps most notably the descending bass figure towards the end and its accompanying harmonic sequence. This receives particularly striking treatment in the Osanna sections where, presented at double speed in the approach to the final cadence, the effect seems to evoke the sound of pealing bells.

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Stile Antico

stile antico is an ensemble of young British singers, now established as one of the most original and exciting voices in its field. Much in demand in concert, the group performs regularly throughout Europe and North America. Their recordings on the harmonia mundi label have enjoyed great success, winning awards including the Diapason d’or de l’anne?e and the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik, and have twice attracted Grammy® nominations. Their release Song of Songs won the 2009 Gramophone Award for Early Music and reached the top of the Billboard® Classical Chart.

Working without a conductor, the members of stile antico rehearse and perform as chamber musicians, each contributing artistically to the musical result. Their performances have repeatedly been praised for their vitality and commitment, expressive lucidity and imaginative response to text. Stile Antico’s recent engagements include debuts at the BBC Proms, London’s Wigmore and Cadogan Halls, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, early music festivals in Boston, Bruges, Barcelona and Utrecht, and at the Cervantino Festival in Mexico. The group has toured extensively with Sting, appearing across Europe, Australia and the Far East as part of his Dowland project Songs from the Labyrinth, and is regularly invited to lead courses at Dartington International Summer School.

 

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A Wondrous Mystery - Renaissance Choral Music for Christmas (2015)

Clemens non Papa, Hassler, Eccard, Handl, Praetorius

Stile Antico

Producer: Robina G. Young
Recording Engineer: Brad Michel
Recording location: All Hallows' Church, gospel Oak, London
Recording Software: Merging
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD64

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807575DI: A Wondrous Mystery - Renaissance Choral Music for Christmas
01:12:51   Select quality & channels above
Tracks.
1.
Ein Kind geborn in Bethlehem
Praetorius
00:03:26   Select quality & channels above
2.
Motet - Pastores quidnam vidistis
Clemens non Papa
00:05:01   Select quality & channels above
3.
Es ist ein Ros entsprungen
Praetorius
00:02:57   Select quality & channels above
4.
Missa Pastores quidnam vidistis - Kyrie
Clemens non Papa
00:05:51   Select quality & channels above
5.
Canite tuba
Handl
00:02:10   Select quality & channels above
6.
Missa Pastores quidnam vidistis - Gloria
Clemens non Papa
00:08:11   Select quality & channels above
7.
Magnificat quinti toni
Praetorius
00:11:25   Select quality & channels above
8.
Missa Pastores quidnam vidistis - Credo
Clemens non Papa
00:10:09   Select quality & channels above
9.
Mirabile mysterium
Handl
00:04:06   Select quality & channels above
10.
Über's Gebirg Maria geht
Eccard
00:02:56   Select quality & channels above
11.
Missa Pastores quidnam vidistis - Sanctus & Benedictus
Clemens non Papa
00:07:33   Select quality & channels above
12.
Vom Himmel hoch
Eccard
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13.
Hodie Christus natus est
Hassler
00:03:14   Select quality & channels above
14.
Missa Pastores quidnam vidistis - Agnus Dei
Clemens non Papa
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