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Bruckner: Mass & Motets [CD]

Polyphony Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
Price: 15.93 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Polyphony was formed by Stephen Layton in 1986 for a concert in King’s College Chapel, Cambridge.Since then the choir has performed and recorded regularly to critical acclaim throughout the world. Recent reviews declare Polyphony ‘one of the best small choirs now before the public’ (Daily Telegraph) and ‘possibly the best small professional chorus in the world’ ... Read more in Amazon's Polyphony Store

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Product details

  • Conductor: Stephen Layton
  • Composer: Anton Bruckner
  • Audio CD (1 Oct 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Hyperion
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 85,212 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Ave Maria, Op. 23, 2 - Anton Bruckner
2. Locus Iste - Anton Bruckner
3. Kyrie - Stephen Layton
4. Gloria - Stephen Layton
5. Credo - Stephen Layton
6. Sanctus - Stephen Layton
7. Benedictus - Stephen Layton
8. Agnus Dei - Stephen Layton
9. Christus Factus Est - Anton Bruckner
10. Vexilla Regis - Anton Bruckner
11. Os Iusti - Anton Bruckner
12. Virga Jesse Floruit - Anton Bruckner
13. Pange Lingua - Anton Bruckner

Product Description

BBC Review

Whilst many would deny the need for a religious faith in order to compose powerful religious works (e.g. does Faure's Requiem really suffer from him being an atheist?), there can be little doubt that Bruckner's strong Catholic faith produced some of the most wonderful music in the 19th century sacred choral repertoire. Polyphony and Stephen Layton have chosen to record his Mass No.2 in E minor, which is sandwiched between seven of the motets including "Ave Maria" and the atmospheric "Os iusti", and the sound they make is simply wonderful. This CD can't come recommended highly enough.

The disc opens with "Ave Maria", and the ethereal performance is as near to perfect as you could imagine ever hearing. Layton appears to have followed the 'very slow' marking in the original score rather than the Andante which appeared in subsequent ones, and the effect is that the opening "Ave Maria"s feel as though they're suspended in air. However, what really marks this out as a disc to savour is not just the use of tempo and dynamic but the crystalline clarity of the vocal delivery, and the equal balancing of vocal parts, i.e the choir works more as an orchestra of equal sections, rather than letting the soprano line dominate. This quality is particularly noticeable in the homophonic opening notes of "Locus iste". The sopranos do merit a special mention for their lightness of vocal attack, particularly in "Christus factus est" which has tuned many a treble into a belter. On the climactic, fortissimo, "quod est super omne nomen", their top A is merely brushed in such a way as to leave you wanting to press the rewind button to experience it again and again. Gorgeous.

Moving on from the motets, the Mass, with its unusually sparse instrumental scoring and use of wind band rather than conventional orchestra, is beautifully sung and sensitively accompanied by the Britten Sinfonia.

This is a very special recording. Don't just take my word for it, though; go listen for yourselves. --Charlotte Gardner

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Product Description

Ave Maria - Locus iste - Messe en mi mineur n°2 - Christus factus est - Vexilla regis - Os iusti - Virga Jesse floruit - Pange lingua / Polyphony - Britten Sinfonia - Stephen Layton, direction

Customer Reviews

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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful release 16 Jun 2009
Format:Audio CD
Stephen Layton & Polyphony - a match made in heaven. Another cracking release by Hyperion gives Bruckner the "Polyphony treatment". Yet, despite some great singing, I feel in one or two places that it's lacking a certain 'je ne sais quoi' - perhaps it's a feeling that the singers aren't quite 'letting go' as much as they could, and that dynamics and expression are being 'held back'. It's a minor point though - the recording proudly takes its place alongside all the other Polyphony recordings on my shelves! However, I felt that in this instance it was enough to drop it to 4 stars (by comparison with the other Polyphony recordings).
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking! 6 Oct 2009
Format:Audio CD
Today I happened on this cd in my local music store and on a hunch I bought it. It hit me like a hammer. The "Avé Maria" alone is worth the price of the entire cd. Not only is it a stupendously beautiful piece of music, Polyphony's singing is of an almost otherworldly quality. Together with Ely cathedral's spacious acoustics it makes for one of life's great listening experiences.
The rest of the cd does not disappoint for one moment either and I cannot understand the other reviewer's tepid "a useful release" and just four stars. I felt compelled to countebalance it with a five star review.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting 24 Dec 2007
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Once again, Stephen Layton brings out the very best in Polyphony. Starting with the immortal "Ave Maria" - a better version will be hard to find - through the magic of Bruckners "Mass No 2 in E Minor", to the sublime "Virga Jesse floruit" and beautiful "Pange lingua", I absolutely love this cd. What Layton and Polyphony can do with the simplest of songs is staggerring. They just take you on a journey away from day to day troubles and re-balance everything. Moving, uplifting and beautifully crafted ..... but then, its Layton & Polyphony, you expect no less but always get so much more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bruckner in English 19 Aug 2011
By Mr WH
Format:Audio CD
Techincally a wonderful performance. Given the forces (choir and brass in particular), it could be a more exciting, all-involving experience. A live recording might capture that sheer joy in faith. Musically this is nevertheless very fine.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Involving and gripping 20 Feb 2012
By Mark F
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
The tone of this choir is amazing. I've heard several recordings of the motets, and performed them several times, but this recording had a certain something extra in terms of immediacy, tone and involvement. The ensemble and musical precision are first rate, but this isn't achieved at the cost of emotional involvement. Both are present in spades here. I can wholeheartedly recommend this disc.
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