Tudor Music Afterlives

Following the freshness and vigour of their quincentenary portrait celebration of Robert Fayrfax, Ensemble Pro Victoria’s second Delphian album brings a similar boldness of approach to a wider-ranging collection, charting some rarely explored territory from a time of great religious, societal and musical change.

Broken fragments of huge pre-Reformation works, preserved only in lute tablature; the first reconstruction and recording of some of the earliest Anglican psalm settings ever written; French chansons and motets once popular in England; improvisatory organ verses within Lady Mass movements by Ludford; and an English-texted version of a much-loved Tallis anthem that shows it in a quite different light: these forgotten ‘afterlives’ of earlier Tudor music help build a much more complete picture of music in sixteenth-century England.

"This intriguing recital brings us music from a period that is very well documented on record but much of what we hear is new – albeit not just in the usual sense of not having been recorded previously. Most of it has necessitated a degree of reconstruction; that is, missing parts or sections have had to be supplied through the ingenuity of latter-day researchers ... the result is very convincing: contrapuntally straightforward, these settings have a rugged charm, which the singers of Ensemble Pro Victoria convey very effectively, with nicely judged word-accentuation ... The Sheppard shows the ensemble at their best, and I’d also heartily recommend the Ludford. Both these ‘firsts’ earn their place in the catalogue straight away, and Sheppard’s psalms ought to attract collegiate institutions and amateur choirs ... the ‘new music’ will be greeted wholeheartedly by anyone interested in Tudor polyphony"

"A fascinating disc that examines the diverse after-lives of the pieces of Tudor music that were overlooked, forgotten or discarded, all in stylish and vibrant performances ... The diverse repertoire provides a lovely glimpse into the complex way Tudor music was used and abused in the centuries after. It is fatally easy to think of the continuity of musical thought and survival of the great works of the repertoire. But here were have large scale anthems that have survived in lute-accompanied fragments, music that has survived but which requires detailed knowledge to reconstruct what would have actually been performed, alongside the sheer fragility of the performing materials. The disc works because the performances from Ensemble Pro Victoria across this diverse repertoire are always vibrant, stylish and engaging"


★ ★ ★ ★
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'It's truly fascinating, not to say heart-stopping, that the vocal polyphony of the Lady Mass Movements of Nicholas Ludford (1485-1557) have survived in their entirety in a single set of partbooks, probably from the 1520s. They are the only surviving cycle of Lady Masses, of the kind once sung in three parts in churches each day of the week. Listening to Ensemble Pro Victoria's blended voices swelling from our modern devices, puts us in tune with a set of sounds and values from the distant past - up close and personal as the modern phrase might have it ... We owe a great debt of gratitude to the full-throated ease of Ensemble Pro Victoria, one of Britain's finest young vocal choirs ... It is virtually a year to the day since the proselytising Delphian label brought out the Ensemble's acclaimed exploration of Robert Fayrfax's music, to coincide with the five hundredth anniversary of his death. This one, which benefits from the exceptional acoustics of All Hallows', Hampstead and St Basil's Church, Newcastle, where it was recorded earlier this year, promises to be equally well received and deservedly popular'

'a fascinatingly varied yet coherent programme of music, containing some staggeringly fine pieces, excellently performed ... Ensemble Pro Victoria sing all this varied music consistently well, be it plainsong or the augmented forces assembled for O splendor gloriae ... Toby Carr’s occasional contributions on the lute with the singers provide both variety of texture and authenticity. The organ played by Magnus Williamson, mentioned above, was built by Goetze and Gwynn in 2002 for the Early English Organ Project, and embodies evidence from fragments of pre-Reformation organs discovered in Suffolk. This combination of cutting-edge scholarship and outstanding performance gives us a recording of the highest quality, apt for edification and pleasure'

read the full review here

Release Date: 28 October 2022
Catalogue No: DCD34295
Total playing time: 1:09:27

Recorded on 28 February-2 March 2022 in All Hallows’, Gospel Oak & 21 April 2022 St James’ and St Basil’s Church, Newcastle upon Tyne

Producer/Engineer: Paul Baxter

24-bit digital editing: Jack Davis
24-bit digital mastering: Paul Baxter

Organ built in 2002 by Goetze & Gwynn for the Early English Organ Project
Lute by Sandi Harris


John Taverner and Christopher Tye:O Splendor Gloriae

Album Booklet

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