Missa ad Praesepe Kyrie George Malcolm
Veritas mea George Malcolm
Missa ad Praesepe Gloria
Verbum caro factum est George Malcolm
Mass for Five Voices Kyrie Lennox Berkeley
Look up, sweet babe Lennox Berkeley
Mass for Five Voices Gloria
O for a closer walk with God Grayston Ives
Missa Brevis Gloria
Short Mass for Sheffield Kyrie Mark Blatchly
Give us the wings of faith Mark Blatchly
Short Mass for Sheffield Gloria
Total playing time 69m 00s
Et in Terra Pax
Et in Terra Pax
The Mass has been the principal service of the Christian faith since Jesus instructed his disciples to "do this in remembrance of me" at the Last Supper (Maundy Thursday). This pivotal point in the Passion story becomes the focus of millions of Christians whenever a Eucharist takes place: "with this bread and this cup we make the memorial of his saving passion, his resurrection from the dead, and his glorious ascension into heaven, and we look for the coming of his kingdom" (from the Eucharistic Prayer). In Sheffield Cathedral the Mass is celebrated daily; on Sundays and feast days the Eucharistic dramaturgy is enriched further through the inclusion of music. The points of the service at which music can replace the spoken word are normally Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei, though only rarely are all these movements heard in a service. Added to this, choirs often sing motets during the mass (usually during communion), which can colour the liturgical year through the appropriateness of their texts.
George Malcolm(1917-1998) is perhaps better known as a performer than for his compositions. His work as Master of the Music at Westminster Cathedral from 1947-1959 is highly regarded, and it seems likely that all the works by Malcolm on this recording were written with that choir in mind. The Missa ad Praesepe (Mass of the Crib) is an unusual and unique work that is both playful and simple; it is also surprising as a Mass in that it is intended for a particular time of the liturgical calendar, Christmas. For much of the piece the composer makes use of basic block chord harmonies in the choir parts, whilst the organ weaves attractive folk song-like melodies. Verbum Caro Factus Est derives its impact from the contrast between Chorale-type verses for unaccompanied lower voices and the fanfare response for full choir and organ. Terribilis est Locus Iste and Veritas Mea owe much to the motets of Anton Bruckner.
Mark Blatchly (b.1960) is presently Director of Choral Music at Charterhouse, following spells as Organ Scholar at Christ Church Oxford, Assistant Organist at Gloucester Cathedral, and Organist at St Edmundsbury Cathedral. In writing his Short Mass for Sheffield for Neil Taylor and the Cathedral Choir, Blatchly has been mindful of the two settings on this recording that are associated with Westminster Cathedral - George Malcolm's Missa ad Praesepe, and Lennox Berkeley's Missa Brevis, both of which are models of economic writing for voices and organ. Recently he has also been influenced by the music of Canteloube Ð music kept simple by the most complicated means. He has also attempted to satisfy Neil Taylor 's exacting stipulation that it should be a playful piece.
Give us the wings of faith is a clever representation of Isaac Watts ' text, both through the vocal lines and the accompaniment. It was written at the request of Dr Barry Rose to fill the gap in the repertoire of Saints ' day anthems for high voices, and was first performed by the boys of St Alban's Abbey under Rose in February 1989.
Sir Lennox Berkeley(1903-1989)was partly of French descent, and his musical education seems to have been based mainly in Paris, where from 1926-1933 he was a pupil of Nadia Boulanger. The French influence is evident in his Mass for five voices, which was written for Colin Mawby and the choir of Westminster Cathedral in the early 1960s. For the duration of the Mass the vocal writing is technically demanding, whilst nevertheless economical, and its designation for five parts with divided treble gives an indication of the standard maintained by the Westminster Choir at the time. The Kyrie is in a mirror format, emphasising the text. It opens and closes on a single line of music, and contrasts contrapuntal fluidity in the 'Kyries' with a passionate, more homophonic 'Christe eleison'. Following a placid opening ('et in terra pax'), the Gloria develops a vibrant rhythmic momentum at 'laudamus te', before giving way to a more lyrical 'Domini fili'. The 'Quoniam' returns us to the earlier restlessness and the driving 'Cum Sancto' transports the listener to the inevitable conclusion. The Sanctus falls into three separate but linked sections. The ethereal, almost ecstatic opening is interrupted by a more aggressive 'Pleni sunt coeli', before the work erupts into a vital 'Hosanna', which cumulates into a shout-like chanting of the text before retreating into the mystery of the opening. The Benedictus is characterised by the falling phrase with which it opens, over which a solo treble voice can be heard in prayer-like veneration. The return of the 'Hosanna' reminds us of the Sanctus, but this time the elements are more disparate. A brooding, mysterious Agnus Dei opens with a single line of music in all five parts. A feature of the piece is the way in which Berkeley builds up the parts cumulatively at various points. The Agnus, and indeed the work as a whole, resolves itself in the bright and serene key of B major.Look up, sweet babe, an Epiphany-tide anthem, was published in 1957, shortly after Berkeley had completed his operas Ruth and A Dinner Engagement. A heavenly treble solo and its subsequent development by the full choir gives way to a more turbulent middle section, before the organ 's gently undulating chords return us to the opening material.
Grayston Ives is well known as a previous member of the King's Singers. More recently he has achieved prominence in the musical world as Director of Music at Magdalen College, Oxford, and also through his compositional work. The Missa Brevis was written for the choir of New College, Oxford, and first performed by them on 12th March 1987. The expressive soprano and tenor melodies of the Kyrie are contrasted and combined with a chant-like recitation of the text from the other parts, whilst the organ, which assumes a prominent role throughout the Missa Brevis, gently saunters with its pedal part. The opening dialogue between Organ and Choir in the Gloria reminds one of the practice of alternatim in French Cathedrals. This powerful opening gives way to a much smoother 'Qui tollis', itself a dialogue between Soprano and Tenor soloists that is laid upon a sombre unison 'Miserere nobis'. The Quoniam returns us to the urgency and excitement of the opening before the movement ends on an exhilarating ninth chord. The opening of the Sanctus is marked 'Broadly (like tolling bells)' an effect that is compounded by the mixture tone of the organ, and clever use of accents in the vocal parts. The 'Pleni sunt coeli' is a dance over a vigorous pedal line; the resulting cumulation and conclusion of the Sanctus is hugely dramatic.
The Benedictus is much more stately, an echo of its preceding movement, which juxtaposes homophonic writing with polyphonic writing at 'in nomine'. Like the Kyrie, the Agnus Dei contrasts a very sustained tune with simple recitations at 'miserere nobis' and 'dona nobis pacem'. The organ interlaces its own independent melody whilst maintaining the momentum with an ostinato bass.
O for a closer walk with God is a much more simple work. The words will be familiar from many hymn books as those of William Cowper (1731-1800). A clear melody in E flat major weaves its way through the piece, appearing in a minor guise in the third stanza. The richer final verse eventually subsides, and the organ postlude leads us heavenward.
The Girls and Men of Sheffield Cathedral Choir
The Cathedral Choir sings Evensong on each weekday except Monday during term-time at 5.45pm. Sunday services consist of the Sung Eucharist at 10.30am and Evensong at 6.30pm. Currently there are some 60 - 70 young people involved in the Cathedral Choir. These children attend schools all over the city of Sheffield, and come in to rehearsals and services up to five times each week to be joined by the Cathedral Songmen and Student Songmen.
The boy and girl choristers all receive individual singing tuition from a specialist vocal tutor during their time in the choir, and, in addition to their regular services, the Cathedral Choir often gives concerts in the Cathedral and beyond, broadcasts on radio and television, and tours at home and abroad. In the last two years the choir has toured in Germany, Holland, the South Coast of England, and the West Country; future plans include East Anglia and the USA.
The Cathedral is often a centre for workshops/singing days given by distinguished visiting musicians, including Sir David Willcocks, John Rutter, Scott Stroman, Ralph Allwood and Michael Brewer.
Neil Taylor is a former chorister of Bradford Cathedral, from where he gained a Scholarship to the Royal College of Music. He was organ scholar at St Albans Cathedral, and in 1990 was appointed Assistant Organist at Norwich Cathedral. As well as premiering many new works in his time at Norwich, he made numerous broadcasts and recordings with the Cathedral Choir, which have received high critical acclaim, and toured with them on the continent and in the USA.
As well as directing the Cathedral Consort, he formed the Cathedral Girls ' Choir in 1995 which completed its first CD recording and made a highly successful tour of Germany in 1997. He has directed choral courses as far afield as Aldeburgh and Mexico City, and is a regular member of staff on the Eton Choral Courses.
In September 1997 he took up the post of Organist and Master of the Music at Sheffield Cathedral. Since then he has made the premiére recording of the Henry Willis III organ in Sheffield City Hall with Harlequin Brass (Music for a Millennium - Classic FM Magazine 's CD of the Year Award Winner) and a disc of Christmas classics (A Ceremony of Carols) with the Cathedral Choir.
In his spare time Neil enjoys reading, cycling, swimming and walking. A keen cook, he is also an enthusiast of real ales and good wines.
Peter Heginbotham was born in 1976, and was educated at Solihull School, where he was a Music Scholar. In 1994, he was appointed to the Organ Scholarship of Truro Cathedral, also acting as an Assistant Housemaster at Polwhele House School, and a visiting bassoon teacher at Truro School.
In September 1995, he moved north to become the Sir Henry Coward Organ Scholar at Sheffield Cathedral and University, where he gained the degree of B.Mus.
Whilst in Sheffield, he ran the Student Orchestra, played continuo for the "Operaworks" production of "Dido and Aeneas" at the 1997 Edinburgh International Festival, was Chairman of the University Summer Music Festival in 1998, and was Secretary to the Management Committee of the Cathedral Arts Festival. He also accompanied the Sheffield choirs on tour, both in the UK and in Germany.
In September 1998 he moved to Chester Cathedral, where he ran the Voluntary Choir and played for the Cathedral Girls Choir on tour in Paris and Sens. He also ran a 70 strong choral society near Liverpool. He has been Assistant Master of the Music at Sheffield Cathedral since November 1999.
In his spare time, he enjoys motoring and travel, as well as testing the results of other peoples ' cooking.
on 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd March 2000,
by kind permission of the Provost and Chapter.
Produced by Simon Johnson
Recorded and edited by Lance Andrews