This album brings together six English composers whose combined careers span more than a century Byrd, Tallis, Morley, Philips, White and Tomkins.
The title Vigilate!
(Be watchful!) epitomises the clandestine character of recusant music-making in Elizabethan England, by undercover Catholic composers of the time.
The pieces on this recording display the richly imaginative, devout and diverse responses ofmusical craftsmen who worked with unfailing creativity in difficult times.
The album comes in our usual casebook packaging and contains a 36 pages booklet with notes by Kerry McCarthy
and texts in German, English and French.
In March 2014, the Monteverdi Choir will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary.
As John Eliot Gardiner's superb choir celebrates its half-century, this wide-ranging collection of English polyphony conjures up a time of political dissension and religious turmoil. As Kerry McCarthy's excellent note suggests, the composers responded with "unfailing creativity", from the sustained grief of Robert White's Lamentations to the bitter reflections of betrayal in Byrd's Civitas sancti tui. Gardiner says he has known some of these pieces since childhood and he brings an exceptional intensity and power to them, while adding some that are less well-known: Tomkins's Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, is a forgotten masterpiece. Do difficult times create great music? ***** --Observer, 25/5/14
A performance with a telling theatrical and atmospheric thread . --Gramophone, June'14
The major interest of these impressive performances is that they reflect the interpretative approaches developed by John Elliot Gardner over decades of experience in many types of music. Performance ***** Recording **** --BBC Music Magazine, Aug'14
It is rare nowadays for the Monteverdi choir to venture as early as the English Renaissance; and it is equally rare to hear a motet recital of this period sung by an ensemble that is audibly a mixed choir with a forceful personality at the helm. This is potentially a very positive attribute; at any rate it makes a change from the conformity of interpretation observable in this repertory in particular. --Gramophone, Aug'14
This is a glorious testament not just to a golden age in English music but to an English choir celebrating its own golden jubilee. --IRR, November '14