Robert White: Magnificat; Lamentations; Exaudiat te Dominus

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COMPOSERS: Robert White
LABELS: Gimell
WORKS: Magnificat; Lamentations; Exaudiat te Dominus
PERFORMER: Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips
CATALOGUE NO: CDGIM 030 DDD
Peter Phillips’s highly informative insert notes to this disc introduce composer Robert White (c1538-74) as ‘arguably the leading figure in that lost generation of English composers which came to maturity between Tallis and Byrd, in the middle of the 16th century’. White’s spaciously scored music (with the treble in an ethereally high register) offers an effective stylistic blend, whose poignantly expressive text setting is characterised by an inspiring architectural splendour.

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On this recording, the Tallis Scholars’ customary attentiveness to linear and harmonic detail produces compelling, appropriately uplifting performances that are appealingly distanced from the microphone. Try the beautifully eloquent account of White’s vividly descriptive, exultant setting of the Magnificat, or the elegant portrayal of the composer’s ingenious formal design in ‘Portia mea’. In addition, the Scholars demonstrate White’s remarkable compositional range, through subtle handling of diverse vocal combinations. They luxuriate in the satisfyingly rich sonorities of ‘Regina caeli’ (for men’s voices only), and delight in the imaginatively varied vocal groupings of the two ‘Christa qui lux es’ settings, and delicious ‘Exaudiat te Dominus’. The Scholars conclude their programme with a perfectly proportioned performance of White’s Lamentation, in which they present the music’s hypnotic pattern of different textures with consummate poise.