LABELS: Collins Classics
WORKS: Te Deum
PERFORMER: Lynda Russell, Gillian Fisher, Catherine Denley, Catherine Wyn Rogers, William Kendall, Andrew Murgatroyd, Michael George, Peter HarveyThe Sixteen/Harry Christophers
CATALOGUE NO: 13592 DDD
With its requirement of five choirs in four parts, Teixerira’s glorious Te Deum is unlikely ever to become a staple of the choral society tradition. However, its absence from the concert repertoire is inexplicable given that, for sheer invention and energy, it competes with Monteverdi’s Vespers. This new recording by Harry Christophers and The Sixteen could very well change that.
Composed in the early 1730s for a traditional New Year’s Eve service in Lisbon Cathedral, where Teixeira was a chaplain singer and official examiner in plainsong, the Te Deum only sets every other verse of the lengthy text, leaving the missing verses to be sung as plain chant. This weaves a severe thread of monastic purity through the rich Teixeirian fabric, showing off the flashy solos (notably, here, from Lynda Russell and William Kendall) and massy choral structures to advantage. A string orchestra is enriched by horns, organ and woodwind, on which rich framework is spun vocal writing as operatic as anything in Handel’s Dixit Dominus.
The Sixteen’s rendition is never less than precise and – given the size of the group – often positively virtuosic. Christophers has assembled eight soloists whose timbre matches the choir’s exactly. A glittering performance of a neglected masterpiece. Patrick Gale