White: Sacred Music for Choir

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COMPOSERS: White
LABELS: Proudsound
WORKS: Sacred Music for Choir
PERFORMER: Voces Sacrae/Judy Martin
CATALOGUE NO: PROU CD 143
Voces Sacrae offer a robust image of Robert White’s Catholic music, written between 1553 and 1558 during his time at Trinity College, Cambridge. In the Lamentations the group vigorously contrasts White’s expressive writing for full choir and his sinuous counterpoint in the solo groupings. Listen to its impassioned indignation in the second verse and heartfelt pleading in the fifth.

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Three settings of Christe qui lux show both White’s flexible capacity for emotional variety and the remarkable eloquence of Voces Sacrae’s expressive range. In the second version its direct approach to the plainsong passages provides an effective foil to the rich, lovingly phrased polyphony with its soaring soprano lines. Contrast the simpler purity of the first setting.

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Elsewhere, Judy Martin and her singers exult joyously in Regina caeli and the Magnificat, find genuine pathos in Libera me, Domine and inspire upward glances with the mesmeric overlapping contrapuntal waves in Ad te levavi oculos. The sound is less refined overall than that of the Tallis Scholars, but Voces Sacrae’s lively performing style vividly illuminates White’s fervent religious beliefs. Nicholas Rast