Classical CD Reviews

Music from the Eton Choirbook = WALTER LAMBE: Nesciens Mater for 5 voices; WILLIAM, MONK OF STRATFORD: Magnificat; PLAINCHANT: Nesciens mater, antiphon; RICHARD DAVY: Saint Matthew Passion; JOHN BROWNE: Stabat Mater for 6 voices; HUGH KELLYK: Magnificat for 5 voices; ROBERT WYLKYNSON: Jesus autem transiens / Credo in Deum – Tonus Peregrinus/ Anthony Pitts – Naxos

Quality recordings of the music of the Eton Choirbook are always welcome, and this one fits the bill.

Published on June 27, 2013

Music from the Eton Choirbook = WALTER LAMBE: Nesciens Mater for 5 voices; WILLIAM, MONK OF STRATFORD: Magnificat; PLAINCHANT: Nesciens mater, antiphon; RICHARD DAVY: Saint Matthew Passion; JOHN BROWNE: Stabat Mater for 6 voices; HUGH KELLYK: Magnificat for 5 voices; ROBERT WYLKYNSON: Jesus autem transiens / Credo in Deum – Tonus Peregrinus/ Anthony Pitts – Naxos 8.572840, 79:00 [6/3/13] ****:

The Eton Choirbook is one of three large choirbooks surviving from early-Tudor England (the others are the Lambeth Choirbook and the Caius Choirbook), gorgeously illustrated and representing a treasure trove of pre-Reformation Latin music. There are 24 composers that make up the collection, and English music at its heights is present in this folio. It is miracle that it survived the Reformation purges.

Harry Christophers and the Sixteen made five magnificent recordings on the now-defunct Collins Classics label that must be considered mandatory for anyone interested in this genre. Those performances were simply superb in every manner, and the five discs offered a generous sampling of the music available. This recording duplicates only a few of those selections, making the quality offered here on a par with Christophers, and with the added bonus of a first recording (Kellyk’s Magnificat) and the presence of the first ever created “passion” complete with narration), that of Richard Davy’s Matthew. The performances are first rate, and the Church of St. Alban’s captured very well in a recording that is a sterling addition to any Renaissance collection, and also makes a fine introduction to the music of the Eton composers.

—Steven Ritter




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