The Sixteen to Release New Album this Month
The Sixteen and its founder and conductor Harry Christophers return to their roots, revisiting the golden age of Renaissance polyphony in England with The Voice of the Turtle Dove. The new recording from The Sixteen's CORO label, available this month from Allegro Classical, is a stunning selection of music by three exceptional Tudor composers: Richard Davy, John Sheppard, and William Mundy. Christophers and the choir performed Mundy's Vox patris caelestis at their first ever concert in May 1979 and it is from this work, based on a text from the Song of Songs, that the phrase "the voice of the turtle dove" is drawn. "Each one of these works is a real gem just waiting to be discovered by a wider audience," says Christophers, "This music is part of our great heritage and I look forward to you reveling in its monumental beauty and sheer magnificence."
The Voice of the Turtle Dove presents music drawn from two of the richest periods of English sacred music: the last decade of the 15th century, when royal choral foundations such as Eton College excelled in singing intricate devotional music, and half a century later, when the short reign of Mary Tudor brought England back to Catholicism, and composers could once more write elaborate Latin-texted music.
Little is known about the life of Richard Davy, although he is the second most-represented of all the composers in the Eton Choirbook, and his beautifully florid style may well have had an impact on later composers. John Sheppard's musical style contains all the grandness and idiosyncrasies of English harmonic invention, as is aptly displayed on this recording. William Mundy was one of the few composers whose career bridged the Reformation and allowed him to develop his style through a variety of important periods. His Votive antiphon, Vox patris caelestis, probably written for the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, can be considered the culmination of the great antiphon tradition with its elaborate and virtuosic vocal writing and daunting range.
Now in its 35th year, The Sixteen is recognized as one of the world's greatest ensembles, boasting over 100 recordings spanning the music of 500 years. Recent critically-acclaimed recordings include a 3-volume Monteverdi series, as well as a 4-volume Palestrina series, called "exquisite perfection" by Fanfare and "a classic in the making" by Gramophone. In Fall 2013 The Sixteen released Volume I of Bach's Lutheran masses, performed by just eight singers. Volume II will be released this March.