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Robert White: Hymns, Psalms & Lamentations (FLAC)

Robert White: Hymns, Psalms & Lamentations (FLAC)
Robert White: Hymns, Psalms & Lamentations (FLAC)

Composer: Robert White
Performer: David Allsop, Mark Chambers, Richard Butler, Christopher Watson, Gabriel Crouch, Nigel Short, William Gaunt, Jimmy Holliday
Director: Gabriel Crouch
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: FLAC (tracks+cue)
Label: Signum
Size: 308 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

01. Christe Qui Lex Es e Dies (I)
02. Ad Te Levavi Oculos Meos
03. Exaudiat Te, Dominus
04. Miserere Mei, Deus
05. Christe Qui Lex Es e Dies (IV)
06. Domine Quis Habitabit (III)
07. Manus Tuae Fecerunt Me
08. Lamentations (A6)

a voice teacher and early music fan


Robert White (d.1574) was an English composer who lived and wrote in turbulent musical times – born in the early 1530’s shortly before Henry VIII embarked on the policies that would lead to a break with the Church in Rome and unleashed a wave of destruction on English religious institutions and their fabric.

These are sublime sounds from the late 16th century. Although White’s Lamentations are not as famous as Tallis’s, nevertheless their resonant and reverberating harmonies and clashing lines have an equal intensity. This impressive debut disc by Gallicantus (an all-male group from the Tenebrae Choir) includes White’s Motets and Hymns, emphasizing his response to the texts and his eloquent way with the single Hebrew letters that begin each Lamentation. The vocal balance is somewhat bass-heavy, but the sound is beautifully recorded. Indeed, their overall performance reflect the precision of ensemble Tenebrae, combined with a passion and commitment to crafting exemplary interpretation of music they obviously love!

This ensemble, dedicated as it is to Renaissance music, comes to us with a wealth of individual experience in the world of consort singing. I am quite familiar with the ability of the two lead countertenors: David Allsopp and Marc Chambers who both possess a strong and solid alto timbre. The word ‘gallicantus’ means Song or cock crow as derived from the ancient Monastic office held just before dawn. It evokes the renewal of life offered by the coming day. The singers of Gallicantus as well as their director Gabriel Crouch are bound by a shared love that draws out unifying themes within diverse repertoire; a difficult thing for a group indeed. But they do it nonetheless as do other fine groups such as the Tallis Scholars.

Just a word about the origin of the ‘Lamentations of Jeremiah’. Tenebrae (Latin=shadow, darkness) is a Christian religious service celebrated by the Western Church on the evening before Maunday Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, which are the last three days of Holy Week. Many composers through the years have written musical settings for these services, referring to the Biblical ‘Lamentations of Jeremiah’. To name just a few: Giovanni Palestrina(1525-1594), Thomas Tallis (1505-1585), William Byrd (1543-1623), Francois Couperin (1668-1733) and Jan Dismas Zelenka ((1679-1745).

There are eight works of White’s on this recording, the most lengthy being the Lamentations (17min) and the next ‘Miserere, mei Deus’ (15min). The remaining six are brief. The total time of this disc is: one hour, thirteen minutes. There is a booklet containing pertinent information as well as the text in Latin and English.

quotations from THE TIMES: “Taste the final amens in ‘Exaudite, Dominum’. where imitative exchanges spiral in ecstasy. Impassioned, exciting music”.

“Gabriel Crouch’s group Gallicantus sing on their first CD with a rapture and clarity made to measure for the Tudor church music of Robert White…..”

I have several recordings of the music of Robert White, but I must admit that this one seems more interestng to me.

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