The choir’s latest CD recording, on the AVIE label, features Handel’s famous Dixit Dominus coupled with a setting of the same text by Alessandro Scarlatti.
‘Performances of the highest quality’ (Choir & Organ)
‘An absolutely superb performance…British university choral sound at its best’ (Allmusic)
‘The blend of choir and soloists…really sets the seal of quality upon this recording…A disc of unusually high calibre’ (Early Music Review)
Choir of The Queen’s College, Oxford
Simon Desbruslais (trumpet)
The Choir of The Queen’s College releases its latest disc on the Signum label. This disc is the world premiere recording of a major work by renowned British composer David Bednall, commissioned by the choir. Welcome all Wonders: A Christmas Cantata is a large-scale work for choir, organ, and trumpet spanning 15 movements. It celebrates the Christmas story through an imaginative selection and juxtaposition of poetry and liturgical texts, and provides a multifaceted telling of the familiar narrative. The celebratory aspects of Christmas are tainted by darker themes that are inherent to the story but are easily overlooked, culminating in an enlightened and engaging work that explores the Christmas story in a profound manner.
Copies are available for £15 by clicking on the disc cover, or from the porters’ lodge at the College.
–“Welcome all Wonders is an inventive, resourceful and impressive piece. The choral writing is assured and imaginative. The trumpet part adds colour and brilliance to many of the sections…The performance is excellent. The choir of Queen’s College…sing the work splendidly and with great assurance and commitment. The sound is fresh and clear, the choir achieving a satisfying blend and very good diction….the singers have clearly been trained very well by Owen Rees and I’m sure David Bednall was delighted by their advocacy.
Welcome all Wonders is an original and very rewarding addition to the Christmas choral repertoire.”– (musicweb-international review)
Dixit Dominus, HWV 232
Concerto No. 4 in G minor
Elin Manahan Thomas (soprano), Esther Brazil (mezzo-soprano), Sally Bruce-Payne (mezzo-soprano), Guy Cutting (tenor) & Matthew Brook (bass-baritone)
Choir of The Queen’s College, Oxford & The Brook Street Band, Owen Rees
The Brook Street Band join forces with the Choir of The Queen’s College, Oxford, and their director Owen Rees, for the first ever pairing on disc of the two settings of the Dixit Dominus by Alessandro Scarlatti and George Frideric Handel.
Following five critically-acclaimed and immensely popular recordings for AVIE, The Brook Street Band embark on their most ambitious project to date: a recording with the estimable student Choir of The Queen’s College, Oxford, that pairs for the first time ever the two settings of the Dixit Dominus written by Alessandro Scarlatti and George Frideric Handel. Both works date from early 18th century Rome, Handel’s within a year of his arriving in the musical capital, and possibly influenced by Scarlatti’s work, though the date of the elder Italian’s composition is not precisely known. Indeed it has been suggested that the 22-year-old Lutheran was attempting to outdo Scarlatti with his masterly grasp of large-scale sacred music for the Roman rite. In between these two grand Vespers, The Brook Street Band serve up a palette cleanser of an instrumental concerto in G minor by Scarlatti.
On this recording the massed forces are joined by five of Britain’s brightest young singers: soprano Elin Manahan Thomas, mezzo-sopranos Esther Brazil and Sally Bruce-Payne, tenor Guy Cutting, and bass-baritone Matthew Brook.
This CD features sublime music by Dove, MacMillan, and choral superstar Eric Whitacre. Copies are available for the bargain price of £5,00, from the porters’ lodge at the College, or from email@example.com.
Portuguese music enjoyed its most spectacular flowering in the early seventeenth century. Many of the greatest composers were gathered in the capital Lisbon, and this was a period when many Portuguese musicians also made their careers in Spain, which was then linked to Portugal politically. This recording presents masterpieces of Portuguese polyphony from Lisbon and Granada brought to light by the choir’s director, Owen Rees. The Lisbon composers represented are Duarte Lobo (chapelmaster at the Cathedral), Pedro de Cristo (chapelmaster at the Monastery of São Vicente), and Manuel Rodrigues Coelho (organist at the Royal Chapel). Lobo’s beautiful and colourful four-voice Missa de beata Maria virgine is at the centre of the recording. We also give a picture of the rich variety of music adorning Vespers in Portugal at this time, including a thrilling two-choir setting of the psalm Dixit Dominus by Pedro de Cristo, Lobo’s dramatic two-choir treatment of the marian antiphon Alma redemptoris mater, and other psalms and canticles combining chant, polyphony, and organ music. The music of Manuel Leitão de Aviles – a Portuguese composer who directed the music at Granada’s royal chapel – remained in obscurity until brought to light by Owen Rees. Here we sing his works for Holy Week, including a fine set of Lamentations, and a celebratory motet for St Nicholas.
COME, HOLY SPIRIT – Music for Ascension, Pentecost & Trinity – An imaginative programme of vocal music from the late Renaissance and the twentieth century, with organ works by Bach, marking the great feast of Pentecost, together with the preceding and following feasts of the Ascension and the Trinity.
CHRIST RISING traces the events of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection from Maundy Thursday to Easter Day through an imaginative selection of vocal music of the Renaissance and the twentieth century and organ chorales by J.S. Bach. The sequence of sung texts takes the listener through the stages of this narrative: the Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane and Jesus’s arrest, the Crucifixion, the Burial, and the discovery of the empty tomb on Easter morning.