Following Gramophone Editor’s Choices for their recent excursions into the sacred music of Bruckner and of Gabriel Jackson, Duncan Ferguson and the Choir of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh return to the epoch of their first recorded triumph – the early sixteenth century.
Their 2010 Taverner disc won plaudits across the board for its exhilarating freshness and panache; now they bring the same musical and liturgical integrity to works by Taverner’s near contemporary John Sheppard, Informator Choristarum at Magdalen College, Oxford (where Ferguson himself was a more recent organ scholar). Centred on Sheppard’s most extended and ecstatic composition, the Missa Cantate, this wide-ranging collection also includes the rarely-heard Gaude virgo Christiphera, Sheppard’s only surviving votive antiphon (with a new reconstruction of the treble part), and a first recording of Adesto sancta Trinitas II.
Most remarkable of all is the performance level to which Ferguson has raised this choir, and the expressive force given to the music by the astonishing agility of voices in the vast cathedral acoustic.
"these pieces show [Sheppard] to be fully the equal of Byrd, Tallis and Taverner. With its ecstatic, keening trebles layered over a densely woven bed of lower-register voices, 'Libera nos, salva nos I' makes a sublime short opener... 'Reges Tharsis et insulae' exploits the cathedral’s wonderful acoustics to the fullest"
"Perhaps the most striking feature of this recording from the Choir of St Mary's Cathedral Edinburgh is the way in which the trebles seem perfectly integrated within the ensemble...The rest of the choir is equally well matched and solid, and the whole is recorded with admirable presence and clarity."
Recording venue(s): St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh
Recording dates: 29-31 January & 18-20 September 2013
Physical format: Jewel case
Number of discs: 1
Number of tracks: 12
Total playing time: 1:08:59
Album ID: DCD34123