Chorus vel Organa: Music from the lost Palace of Westminster

Great Britain’s modern Houses of Parliament conceal a lost royal foundation: the chapel of St Stephen, begun by Edward I and raised into a college by his grandson Edward III. The foundation maintained an outstanding musical tradition for two hundred years before the college was dissolved in 1548, when the building became the first permanent meeting-place of the House of Commons. This recording reflects the musical life of the college in its final years under Henry VIII, and reconstructs both the wide range of singing practices in the great chapels and cathedrals and the hitherto largely unexplored place of organ music in the pre-Reformation period.

The repertoire of music chosen reflects the chapel’s dedication to St Stephen, and the disc also features three items from the Caius Choirbook – a handsomely illuminated manuscript, commissioned by a canon at St Stephen’s, which now resides in Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge.

"Deep research and fierce musical intelligence underpin this project... Director Geoffrey Webber gets a robust and highly musical reading from his Cambridge vocalists.


"There is much to be celebrated here as early music scholarship inspires joyful performances from the Choir of Gonville & Caius College…it is surely testament to the rich heritage of British vocal performance that young singers can assimilate these styles so quickly and expertly. If ever there was a moment to bask in the achievements of the early music revival and gaze in wonderment at its promising future, then this is it"


"a fascinating programme..."


"From the opening processional responsory, Sancte Dei pretiose, Geoffrey Webber and his forces treat us to a finely executed sequence of music, with the highest standards of singing and playing recorded in the sympathetic venue of St Laurence’s, Ludlow…a wholly uplifting experience"

"Webber and the Choir of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge with Magnus Williamson remind us of the riches of the Lost Palace of Westminster. The sound of that reconstructed 16th-century chamber organ adds a highly distinctive character to the sound. And the speculative interweaving of voices and organ feels perfectly plausible. The recording is impeccable."

Producer: Paul Baxter
Release Date: 20 May 2016
Catalogue No: DCD34158
Total playing time: 1:06:00

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