WORKS: Magnificat a 4; In manus tuas; Vae nobis miseris; Quales sumus; Joan is sick and iII at ease; Ah, mine heart, remember thee well; Plainsong
PERFORMER: Magdalen Collection/Harry Christophers
CATALOGUE NO: 15112
This release commemorates an exceptional musical tradition. It is also an affectionate memorial, to Bernard Rose, Informator choristarum (choirmaster) at Magdalen College, Oxford, from 1957 to 1981, with all proceeds dedicated to the college chapel music fund. From its foundation at the end of the 15th century, Magdalen has provided a model for the English choral tradition and this repertoire, by Rose’s 16th-century predecessors, illustrates the brilliance of Magdalen’s composers. As for the singing, the Magdalen Collection, former Academical Clerks who now belong to such well-known groups as The Sixteen, the Clerkes of Oxenford and the Milliard Ensemble, display an impressive esprit de choeur.
For instance, beside jubilant performances of Sheppard’s Magnificat and Laudem dicite Deo, deeply felt accounts of the same composer’s three different settings of In manus tuas, atmospherically recorded in Magdalen chapel’s warm acoustic, provide a meditative focal point, reflecting on the deep fondness with which Rose, who died last year, is remembered. Lively clarity in Davy’s Joan is sick and Ah, mine Aewtleavens the programme’s expressive content. Ultimately, Christophers and his colleagues discover the spirit of the Magdalen brotherhood enshrined in Mason’s Quales sumus, whose climax expresses the touching desideratum that ‘after life’s end… in happiness we may sing together, Alleluia’. Nicholas Rast