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The Sacred Flame

European sacred music of the Renaissance and Baroque periods

The Cambridge Singers | La Nuova Musica
John Rutter (conductor)

CD: £14.00
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A treasure-trove of outstanding motets, including works by Bach, Buxtehude, Gabrieli, Ges­­­­ualdo, Monteverdi, Palestrina, Schütz and Sweelinck. All performed in glorious new recordings from the Cambridge Singers at their sensuous and virtuosic best, joined here on disc for the first time by the acclaimed early music ensemble La Nuova Musica.

All works on this disc can be found in the European Sacred Music volume edited by John Rutter for the Oxford Choral Classics series published by Oxford University Press.

Track list

  1. Jubilate Deo (G. Gabrieli)
  2. Beatus vir (Monteverdi)
  3. Christe, adoramus te (Monteverdi)
  4. Cantate Domino (Monteverdi)
  5. Sicut cervus (Palestrina)
  6. Exsultate Deo (Palestrina)
  7. Christus factus est (Anerio)
  8. O vos omnes (Gesualdo)
  9. Timor et tremor (Lassus)
  10. Ave verum Corpus (Lassus)
  11. Laudate Dominum (Sweelinck)
  12. Magnificat (Buxtehude)
  13. Jesu, dulcis memoria (Victoria)
  14. O vos omnes (Victoria)
  15. Crux fidelis (John IV, King of Portugal)
  16. Ave Maria (Josquin Desprez)
  17. Dixit Maria (Hassler)
  18. Psalm 100 (Schütz)
  19. Selig sind die Toten (Schütz)
  20. O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht (Bach)

“Radiant performances, with confident and assured singing and sensitive, sympathetic accompaniment.” MusicWeb International

“…The Sacred Flame is a fascinating, impressive compendium of liturgical choral music…” The Independent

“Whether you are new to the music of this era or a seasoned collector this release is recommended without reservation.” Cross Rhythms

“One should never judge a CD by its cover but this release deserves to be an exception: the full-colour digipak is like a beautiful little jewel box and the contents are the treasure chest…

An excellent introduction to European church music from the 16th to 18th centuries. The booklet notes with full texts and translations are both helpful and interesting and the music is superb…rarely has a CD both looked and sounded as good as this. Of course a quality production job is worthless if the musicians fail to deliver but, once again, Rutter’s house choir, The Cambridge Singers, are as arresting as ever. Several times they sing a cappella leaving themselves nowhere to hide but every time they deliver. Whichever way you programme your CD player you get 20 great pieces all performed as well as could be imagined. If I had to select a personal favourite, it would be Buxtehude’s Magnificat  but, truly, this is no more than a first among equals. Whether you are new to the music of this era or a seasoned collector this release is recommended without reservation.” Cross Rhythms

“…you’ll be happy with the performances, which throughout this recording are at the high level we always expect from this choir and director: vibrant, articulate, carefully balanced, and always attentive to a given work’s inherent expressive possibilities. It’s wonderful to hear the opening Jubilate Deo (a piece lovingly attempted and so often mangled by well-meaning choirs all over the world) sung with such clarity and agility, unrushed; likewise, Palestrina’s sublime Sicut cervus is well-paced, each line given its due. The instrumental ensemble, the relatively new La Nuova Musica, is first-rate, its timbres adding textural variety and layers of color to nine of the selections. Needless to say: Highly recommended.” Classics Today

“Perfectly timed for Easter, The Sacred Flame is a fascinating, impressive compendium of liturgical choral music from the Renaissance and Baroque periods drawn from across both Italy and Northern Europe.  The more famous motets of such as Palestrina, Lassus and Monteverdi are supported by less-known gems from the likes of Hassler and Sweelinck. John Rutter’s pristine arrangements are realised to sublime effect by the Cambridge Singers. The occasional early-music settings of La Nuova Musica offer intriguing insights into the authentic period sound of stile nuovo pieces such as Monteverdi’s Beatus vir and Buxtehude’s Magnificat.” The Independent

“The wonderfully sleek Cambridge Singers, under their founder John Rutter, make light work of this choral polyphony from continental Europe that sprang from the Catholic and Protestant Reformation, an era that saw the beguiling tunefulness of street music and opera permeate works written for the liturgy.  Rutter adeptly points up these influences, emphasizing the vivid joy of motets by Monteverdi, Palestrina and Sweelinck, alongside the more reflective works of Buxtehude, Victoria and Bach.” The Observer

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