Magnificent music to welcome in the Christmas season. Beginning with gems by Praetorius, Mouton and Josquin, the main work in this program is Benjamin Britten’s beguiling A Ceremony of Carols, scored for women’s voices and harp – memorably described by the composer’s partner Peter Pears as being ‘very sweet and chockfull of charm’.
Poulenc’s Quatre motets pour le temps de Noël delight us with their concision and clarity – from the infinite tenderness of O magnum mysterium to the almost breathless excitement of Hodie Christus natus est. Giles Swayne galvanises the text of the Magnificat by bringing in nothing less than a zulu warrior chant.
Sir John Tavener’s Mother and Child builds to a thunderous and awe-inspiring climax before returning to the prayerful, contemplative textures with which it also began. Music also by Herbert Howells and Jan Sandström.
Michael Praetorius (1571—1621): In dulci jubilo à 2, 3 & 4
Jean Mouton (c.1459—1522): Nesciens Mater
Josquin Desprez (c.1450—1521): Præter rerum seriem
Benjamin Britten (1913—1976): A Ceremony of Carols
Francis Poulenc (1899—1963): Quatre motets pour le temps de Noël
Giles Swayne (b.1946): Magnificat
Herbert Howells (1892—1983): Three Carol-Anthems: A Spotless Rose/Sing lullaby/Here is the little door)
Jan Sandström (b.1954): Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen
Sir John Tavener (1944—2013): Mother and Child