LABELS: ASV Gaudeamus
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Music at All Souls, Oxford
WORKS: The Lancastrians to the Tudors: works by Lambe, Power, Dunstaple, Davy, White,
PERFORMER: The Cardinall’s Musick/Andrew Carwood
CATALOGUE NO: CD GAU 196
Although there was no explicit provision for a choral establishment in the foundation of All Souls, this concert of pieces from the first 150 years of the College’s history attests to its vigorous musical tradition. Atmospherically recorded in All Souls Chapel, The Cardinall’s Musick’s thoroughly researched and liturgically aware interpretations of this repertoire give its performances an impressive authority. Shapely vocalisation of the plainsong ‘Requiem aeternam’ – set evocatively against the intonation of the College bell – fixes the mood beautifully.
Carwood’s singers animate the 15th-century works with earthy vitality, culminating in ‘Salve mater Domini’ (Sturgeon’s tribute to the English victory at Agincourt) and a lovely rendering of Dunstaple’s ‘Descendi in ortum meum’. Its smooth fluency in the more opulent 16th-century polyphony eloquently communicates the magnificence of Lambe’s ‘Nesciens mater’ and the beguiling interplay of solo groupings and full choir in Davy’s ‘O Domine celi terreque’. Focused precision in items by Merbecke, Tallis and Sheppard releases the full expressive power of their English texts.
Heartfelt singing vividly conveys the emotional intensity of Tye’s ‘Ad te clamamus’ and Parsons’s ‘Ave Maria gratia plena’, but the Cardinalls’ visceral account of White’s Lamentations comprehensively reveals the secular and spiritual aspects of All Souls’ musical heritage. Nicholas Rast