Monday, October 13, 2014

The Tudors at Prayer

The Tudors at Prayer
Byrd, Tallis, White, Munday, Tavener
Magnificat; Philip Cave, director

Though the theme is somewhat narrowly defined, (English sacred music 1560-1590), there's a surprising amount of variety in this program. Henry VII created the Anglican church, though it had very little change on the sacred music John Tavener and Thomas Tallis composed.

His daughter, Mary I, reinstated the Catholic church, and the music of her time by William Munday and Robert White, reflect that return to tradition. Elizabeth I, like her father an ardent music-lover, brought back the Anglican church, and the sacred music of her time seems more cosmopolitan, somehow. The sacred works of William Byrd don't follow quite follow tradition as closely.

Magnificat performs all these works with appropriate interpretation, making it easier to hear the subtle differences between works written for monarchs with conflicting agendas.The sound is spacious, as befitting the chapels and cathedrals for which these works were written, with just enough ambiance to make the ensemble sound full, without obscuring the contrapuntal lines within.

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