Music from the Eton Choirbook

Tonus Peregrinus open the great early English sourcebook

Author: 
David Fallows

Music from the Eton Choirbook

  • Magnificat
  • Nesciens mater
  • Nesciens mater
  • (The) Passion according to St. Matthew
  • Stabat mater a 6
  • Magnificat a 5
  • Credi in Deum/Jesus autem

It is great to have a new recording from the Eton Choirbook, that astonishing collection of English church music from the end of the 15th century, the soaring musical response to perpendicular architecture. It is also great to have a new recording to Richard Davy’s Passion setting, which seems not to have been recorded since the LP era (this time starting about a quarter of the way through, where the music survives complete and needs no reconstruction). In particular it is good to have what may be the first recording of the Magnificat by Hugo Kellyk – about the only English composer of the time who simply cannot be documented at all but a man who composed two glorious pieces. And it is good that Antony Pitts has applied his composer’s instinct and experience to the very tricky matter of editorial accidentals in this music, resulting in a far wider range of chromatic colour than even the boldest of available recordings (something that geeks will have a marvellous time discussing).

Tonus Peregrinus is an ensemble that has recorded music from all centuries, from the 11th to the 21st, with particularly famous recordings of Pärt and Antony Pitts himself. So listeners need not expect the crystalline textures of the specialist Tudor music groups
in such music. The high-quality recording technique brings out quite a few different kinds of voice here, with different degrees of vibrato and different approaches to musical line; but, within those limitations, the CD is an undoubted success.

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