Durham Cathedral Choir Association

© DCCA 2012 - 18. Created with Serif WebPlus X6. Updated & maintained with Serif WebPlus X7

Home

Hymn: Te lucis ante terminum

Plainsong, mode viii

This setting of the Office Hymn for Compline takes the ferial tune, for use on days other than feast days. Plainsong melodies are categorised according to the modal scale they follow; simpler melodies - such as those used for reciting Psalms - are called tones and numbered according to the relationship between the reciting note and the final or keynote.


Magnificat sexti toni

Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548 - 1611)

Victoria’s output is exclusively sacred, His 18 published Magnificat settings range from sumptuous works for antiphonal choirs to restrained compositions such as this one for four voices. This Magnificat is saturated with the the plainsong sixth psalm tone: verses of the text are sung alternately to plainsong and polyphony. The first tenor part in the polyphonic sections carries a decorated form of the plainsong tone, and the melodic material of the other parts is derived from it. The Gloria Patri shows off Victoria’s contrapuntal technique to the full. A fifth part is added in canon to the plainsong part.



Hear the voice and prayer

If ye love me

Thomas Tallis (c1505 - 1585)

Tallis and Parsely, contemporaries as they were, lived through the liturgical changes of the English Reformation. The drive to ensure that anthem texts were more intelligible to the congregation meant not only that the text should be in English but that the music had to be in a simpler, more homophonic style with the syllables aligned between different voice parts. These two commandment anthems by Tallis have a common format: a short opening section followed by a longer more contrapuntal section, the longer section being repeated. The texts are both devotional: King Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple, and Christ’s promise to his disciples to send the Holy Spirit.


The Lamentations

Osbert Parsley (1511 - 1585)

Little of Parsley’s music survives apart from a few short English anthems, some consort music for viols and fragments of Latin church music. This set of Lamentations was probably written for use during Lent in Norwich Cathedral, where Parsley was a lay clerk until his death. The alto part carries the plainsong, under which Parsley weaves a counterpoint using angular melodic lines, false relations and syncopation, producing music of great turbulence and intensity. As in the settings of the Lamentations by Tallis, some of the customary refrain, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return unto the Lord thy God” is added to the end of the text.


Jubilate Deo in chordis

Heinrich Schütz (1585 - 1672)

This unusual work is part of a psalm-setting from Schütz’s Symphoniae Sacrae, published during the composer’s second extended visit to Venice in 1629. The original scoring of the accompaniment was for trombetta (perhaps a slide trumpet), cornett, dulcian and continuo - this has been rendered colourfully on the organ! The Venetian influence is shown in the almost equal parts given to voices and instruments, the lightness of touch in word-painting (for example the imitation between the voices to the words in tympano), and the switches between duple and triple metre.


Salvo Regina

Francesco Cavalli (1602 - 1676)

Cavalli is best remembered today for his operas written for performance at Venetian theatres. His life was more bound up with the sacred music of St Mark’s Venice, however: he sang in the choir first as a treble and then as a tenor, became Second Organist in 1639 and maestro di capella in 1668. The motet Salve Regina comes from Cavalli’s publication Musiche sacræ of 1656. In contrast to the style of other works in this publication it is rather conservative, deriving the main melodies from plainsong and accompanying them with short contrapuntal motifs. There are elements of almost madrigalian word-setting towards the end of the first section: the voices call to each other agitatedly at ad te clamamus, and the word suspiramus is whispered breathlessly in separated syllables. The technique and mood of the opening return for the final section.


Si iniquitates observaveris

Samuel Wesley (1766 - 1837)

Wesley had a strong interest in the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church, although he denied ever having been a member, and he wrote several large-scale works with Latin texts. This short trio is an extract from his De profundis, composed around 1800, and provides a moment of tranquility in the context of the oratorio.


Lord, thou hast been our refuge

Ernest Walker (1870 - 1949)

Walker belongs to a generation of church musicians from the turn of the century, now remembered only for a representative work or two each. In Walker’s case the sister work to this one - I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, also for men’s voices and organ - is rather better known. In both pieces Walker shows a sensitive approach to word-setting, and he provides an almost elegiac organ accompaniment. The middle section, given over to a solo baritone with only occasional echoes from the choir, is particularly expressive, with sections of near-recitative over a sustained organ part.


O let the heart beat high with bliss

Conrad Eden (1905 - 1994)

Conrad Eden, like many of his predecessors as Organist of Durham Cathedral, provided the church in which he worked and worshipped with compositions as well as performances. Some of his pieces are clearly written with specific voices in mind, and he seem to have taken particular satisfaction in composing for events and occasions at Durham. Many of his works are still sung at Durham, in particular the Acclamations for the greater feasts. This anthem is a setting of a hymn suitable for the Feast of the Holy Name and shows three of the composer’s musical fingerprints: angular counterpoint, a sure but unusual harmonic touch, and organ writing with plenty of opportunity for a colourful interpretation.


Adoro te devote

Richard Lloyd (b 1933)

Richard Lloyd, Conrad Eden’s successor at Durham, continued the tradition of composing for the choir. This beautiful miniature was written in 1954, however, when the composer was Assistant Organist in Salisbury. Despite its Latin title the text of the anthem is in English, a translation of one of St Thomas Aquinas’s devotional texts for the feast of Corpus Christi. Richard Lloyd's simple homophonic setting has been a favourite with a whole generation of lay clerks.


Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in A

Philip Moore (b 1943)

Now Organist of York Minster, Philip Moore wrote this setting of the evening canticles when he was Assistant Organist at Canterbury Cathedral. Scored for double-choir unaccompanied men’s voices, it presents a considerable challenge to a choir. The melodic lines are long and sinuous, and the harmonic language makes use of rapid changes between major, minor and modal harmonies. Moore exploits the antiphonal possibilities of two choirs and of high and low voices, and he creates a series of solos and duos accompanied by the other parts, The whole effect is one of the most original works for men’s voice in the repertoire.


Messe “Cum Jubilo”

Maurice Duruflé (1902 - 1986)

The Messe “Cum Jubilo” represents one third of Duruflé’s choral output, the other works being the Requiem and the Four Motets. (The habit of releasing very few compositions may be one Duruflé learned from his teacher, Paul Dukás.) Plainsong forms the vocal lines of the mass, although Duruflé transposed the plainsong and modulates very frequently to create harmonic interest. Whereas other composers have used plainsong tunes by forcing them in a rythmic strait-jacket, Duruflé does just the opposite, allow in the flexibility of the plainsong to dictate the rhythm of the whole composition. The Messe “Cum Jubilo” is scored for the monk-like sounds of unison baritones and organ; the central section of the Gloria and the whole of the Benedictus are given to a soloist, and Duruflé (who was Organist of St Etienne-du-Mont) has given very precise registration directions to the organist. Unusually, the mass setting has no Credo.

© Andrew Fowler, 1999

Mens Voices.mp3

Music for Men’s Voices

PRCD 625

£10.-

Click the cover to the left to hear a sample of the CD

Back to all products

To the next CD

Plainsong, mode viii

Hymn: Te lucis ante terminum

Tomás Luis de Victoria

Magnificat sexti toni

Thomas Tallis

Hear the voice and prayer

Thomas Tallis

If ye love me

Osbert Parsley

The Lamentations

Heinrich Schütz

Jubilate Deo in chordis

Francesco Cavalli

Salve Regina

Samuel Wesley

Si iniquitates observaveris

Ernest Walker

Lord, thou hast been our refuge

Conrad Eden

O let the heart beat high with bliss

Richard Lloyd

Adoro the devote

Philip Moore

Magnificat in A

Philip Moore

Nunc Dimittis in A

Maurice Duruflé

Messe “Cum Jubilo”

Kyrie


Gloria


Sanctus


Benedictus


Agnus Dei