Chorus vel Organa: Music from the Lost Palace of Westminster | Delphian DCD34158

Chorus vel Organa: Music from the Lost Palace of Westminster


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Label: Delphian

Cat No: DCD34158

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Vocal/Choral

Release Date: 20th May 2016



Choir of Gonville & Caius College Cambridge
Magnus Williamson (organ)


Geoffrey Webber



Felix namque (c.1530)
Sancte Dei pretiose (Sarum Antiphoner, 1519)

Cornyshe, William


Ludford, Nicholas

Lady Mass Cycle
» Agnus Dei
» Alleluia. Salve Virgo
» Gloria
» Kyrie
» Laetabundus
Missa Lapidaverunt Stephanum
» Agnus Dei
» Gloria

Sheppard, John

Sancte Dei pretiose


Choir of Gonville & Caius College Cambridge
Magnus Williamson (organ)


Geoffrey Webber


Great Britainís modern Houses of Parliament conceal a lost royal foundation: the chapel of St Stephen, begun by Edward I and raised into a college by his grandson Edward III. The foundation maintained an outstanding musical tradition for almost exactly two hundred years before the college was dissolved in 1548, when the building became the first permanent meeting-place of the House of Commons. This recording reflects the musical life of the college in its final years under Henry VIII, and reconstructs both the wide range of singing practices in the great chapels and cathedrals and the hitherto largely unexplored place of organ music in the pre-Reformation period.

The repertoire of music chosen reflects the chapelís dedication to St Stephen, and the disc also features three items from the Caius Choirbook Ė a handsomely illuminated manuscript, once owned by a canon at St Stephenís, which now resides in Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge.


Hidden beneath the gothic revival Houses of Parliament is the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, much restored, the only remains of the medieval collegiate chapel of St Stephen, a lost royal foundation. The resourceful Geoffrey Webber has pieced together a sequence of music from its final years under Henry VIII, based around the music of Nicholas Ludfordís Lady Mass cycle. His Gonville & Caius choir is less suavely balanced than some, but sounds invigoratingly individual, especially in Cornyshís riveting Magnificat and Sheppardís Sancte Dei pretiose. Magnus Williamsonís improvised chamber organ responses and interludes, based on surviving partbooks, add to the atmospheric archaeology of an extremely worthwhile compilation.  Nicholas Kenyon
The Observer 12 June 2016
Geoffrey Webber and the Choir of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge with Magnus Williamson remind us of the riches of the Lost Palace of Westminster. The sound of that reconstructed 16th-century chamber organ adds a highly distinctive character to the sound. And the speculative interweaving of voices and organ feels perfectly plausible. The recording is impeccable. And Webber's notes are really helpful in understanding the sources of the music and the decisions they've taken in bringing it back to life.
Record Review (BBC Radio 3) 4 June 2016
The performances consistently breathe an air of gracefulness and musical conviction to which the listener cannot fail to respond with warmth and enthusiasm, and like everything else on this CD, the beauty of tone and musicality are indeed treasured elements; the fruits of true sensitivity from a group of exceptional artists. A riveting historical document, excitingly annotated and wonderfully recorded.  Gerald Fenech
Music & Vision 31 May 2016

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