John Taverner: Imperatrix inferni

CD Taverner
Released: 
Oct 2011
Label: 
Obsidian Records
Synopsis: 

John Taverner (d. 1545) is, arguably, the most famous of all early Tudor composers, and one who had a rather colourful musical and political career. His music represents the final flowering of late medieval English polyphony before the onslaught of the mid 16th-century Reformation. Much of the music on this recording centres around Taverner's earlier career, including the three surviving large-scale Votive Antiphons. Included, too, is his sumptuous six-part Quemadmodum, which stylistically foreshadows true 'Renaissance' composition in England.

Track Listing: 

1. Quemadmodum
2. Audivi vocem
3. Ave Dei patris filia
4. Dum transisset sabbatum
5. Mater Christi
6. Gaude plurimum
7. [Hodie nobis celorum rex ...] Gloria in excelsis Deo
8. O splendor glorie

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Taverner: Dum transisset sabbatum (excerpt)

CD Taverner
mp3: 

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© 2012, Obsidian Records

One of the first of Taverner's works that I got to know, and perhaps one of the most performed of his compositions in modern times. The plainsong which punctuates the polyphony is gloriously sung by the men of Alamire, but you'll need to get the entire track to enjoy it! Also wonderful is the final 'Alleluia' which could only be from Taverner's passionate pen.

Taverner: Gaude plurimum (end)

CD Taverner
mp3: 

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© 2012, Obsidian Records

His longest and most sumptuous of Votive Antiphons, Gaude plurimum is constructed on epic proportions. Taverner builds the tension throughout this 15-minute work, and the end, offered here, has one of the most explosive Amens in the early Tudor repertoire. Listen out for the final chords!

Taverner: Mater Christi sanctissima (excerpt)

CD Taverner
mp3: 

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© 2012, Obsidian Records

This is the work that started it all. 24 years ago in Christ Church, Oxford, where Taverner was 'Informator Choristarum' from c. 1526. Robert Macdonald and I were first years in the choir and Stephen Darlington asked me to reconstruct Taverner's Mass 'Mater Christi', an imitation mass based on the antiphon of the same name. I must have recorded it at least three times since then, but the work will always remain fresh in my mind.

Taverner: Quemadmodum (1st part)

CD Taverner
mp3: 

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© 2011, Obsidian Records

Very possibly dating from Taverner’s final years, this is a setting of the first verses of Psalm 41 (42) Quemadmodum, which survives in an untexted source as an instrumental work and stylistically seems to be his most mature composition. It may be that his Protestant leanings guided his pen to an instrumental rendition of what is clearly conceived as a vocal work; certainly the text fits the music quite seamlessly.