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Stephen Layton


Stephen Layton

Edward Higginbottom's early years were marked by distinction as a keyboard player. He gained his Fellowship of the Royal College of Organists before leaving school, winning the Harding and Read prizes for the most outstanding candidate of the year. A long association with Corpus Christi College Cambridge followed, beginning with an organ scholarship (winning the John Stewart of Rannoch university prize in Sacred Music), continuing with graduate work and a doctoral thesis on French baroque music, and ending with a research fellowship (1973-76). While at Cambridge, he gained recognition at home and abroad as director of the Cambridge University Purcell Society, one of the very first English early music groups to perform regularly in France. Graduate work in Paris from 1970 to 1972 deepened his contacts abroad as he studied organ with Marie-Claire Alain while writing his doctoral thesis. His love of French culture has borne fruit in editions of Francois Couperin's chamber music, many recording projects featuring French music, and frequent invitations for New College Choir to sing in Europe and further afield. He is sought after as president of international music competitions, and as a consultant. .

Groups directed - Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, Holst Singers, Netherlands Chamber Choir, Polyphony



Displaying 1-26 of 26 items.

Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge : Baltic Exchange : 1 CD : Stephen Layton : Ugis Praulins : 034571177472 : CDA67747

Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge : Baltic Exchange

Review: With choral music at the heart of the musical life of the Baltics it is not surprising that the medium has been a central preoccupation for many of their composers. A degree of isolation from international trends in new music (frequently turning into outright proscription) meant that the centre of gravity for composers in the west of the Soviet Union was very different from that of their colleagues beyond the Iron Curtain. And while there is certainly no such thing as a pan-Baltic style-this recording offers only a glimpse of the choral riches to be found in these three tiny countries-all the composers on the disc share a number of characteristics: a sure-footed handling of choral orchestration, lucidity of texture, a pragmatic use of 'avant-garde' effects (shorn of their ideological baggage), a fondness for cluster-chords and diatonically saturated harmony, and the frequent use of ostinatos. Stephen Layton has single-handedly brought many of these composers to the attention of audiences and choirs in the West-and through his sensitive and inspirational direction, has won many fans for this repertoire. Together with his brilliant young choir, who sing this repertoire with 'passion and purity', he is the ideal guide to this beautiful and enchanting music.

Songlist: Missa Rigensis, Kyrie eleison, Gloria, Gloria. Domine Deus, Gloria. Quoniam tu solus sanctus , Credo in unum Deum, Credo in unum Deum. Deum de Deo, Credo in unum Deum. Crucifixus, Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Vakars (Evening), Lugsana (Prayer), Debess (Heaven), Benedicto, Angelis suis Deus, Laudibus in sanctis, Pater noster

6187c 1 CD $18.95

Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge : Beyond All Mortal Dreams : 1 CD : Stephen Layton :  : cda67832

Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge : Beyond All Mortal Dreams

Review: On Beyond All Mortal Dreams, Stephen Layton and his acclaimed Trinity College Choir perform a magnificent selection of American a cappella choral works. The recording is a showcase of little-known American composers unearthed by Layton during his travels. These distinctive and luminous compositions illustrate the context in which better-known composers such as Lauridsen and Whitacre - already championed by Layton - learned their craft. The choir is in perfect voice here, and their purity of tone, flawless intonation and depth of feeling are truly exceptional. This wonderful disc is a must for all choral music fans.

Songlist: Tonight eternity alone, O admirable commercium, O sacrum convivium, O vos omnes, Sanctus, O vis aeiternitatis, Caritas abundat, O virtus sapientiae, Lux aeterna, Fair in face, I beheld her, beautiful as a dove, Rise up, my love, my fair one, How they so softly rest, The day is done, Pilgrims' Hymn, Hymn to the Eternal Flame, Mosella, Te vigilans oculis, Phoenix

5985c 1 CD $15.95 English Choral CDs

Holst Singers : Ikon II : 1 CD : Stephen Layton :  : 034571177564 : CDA 67756

Holst Singers : Ikon II

Review: In 1997, the Holst Singers and Stephen Layton produced a disc that immediately became a cult classic and a best-seller. 'Ikon', a selection of great Russian choral music from the 19th century, dazzled with its grand, opulent beauty. Now the same forces return with Ikon II. Many of the works recorded here are by composers whose names will not be familiar - but the extraordinary quality of the music is unmistakable and immediately enthralling. This recording centres on music produced by a group of composers linked to the Moscow Synodal School of Church Singing, famous for its choir (comprising men and boys) at the beginning of the twentieth century. These composers made, up to the time of the momentous events of 1917, a significant contribution to the future of Russian choral music, one that, while never forgotten in Russia, is now also coming to be appreciated in the West. That their work did not emerge from a vacuum is made evident here by the inclusion of music by earlier composers: Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908), Mili Balakirev (1837-1910) and Cesar Cui (1835-1918).

Songlist: Our Father, Salvation is created, Of thy mystical supper, Let my prayer arise, Let thy good spirit, Bless the Lord, O my soul, The Cherubic Hymn, Come, let us worship, Come, let us worship, We hymn thee, Rejoice, O Virgin, Bless the Lord, O my sold, Our Father, Rejoice, O Virgin, We hymn thee, Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, Let all mortal flesh keep silence, We have no other help, All of creation rejoices in you, The Thrice-Holy

6164c 1 CD $19.95 English Choral CDs

Holst Singers : Pierre Villette : 1 CD : Stephen Layton : Pierre Villette : 034571175393 : CDA67539

Holst Singers : Pierre Villette

Review: This pioneering new recording - a showcase for the virtuoso talents of the Holst Singers - presents all fifteen of Villette's unaccompanied choral works and his two motets for choir and organ. Pierre Villette might best be regarded as a stylistic bridge between Debussy and Faure on the one hand and Poulenc and Messiaen on the other. A world rich in the familiarities of Gregorian chant infuses much of his choral output, while ambitious chromaticisms and textural gestures create effects which are at once spiritual and sensuous. This is the music of private prayer set in the context of an incense-filled Gothic Uber-Cathedral. Under their long-standing director of music Stephen Layton, the Holst Singers have established themselves firmly at the top of the country's league of chamber choirs. This new programme can only enhance their justly deserved reputation.

Songlist: O Sacrum Convivium Op. 27, Hymne A La Vierge Op. 24, Attende, Domine Op. 45, Notre Pere D'Aix Op. 75, Inviolata Op. 66, Tu Es Petrus Op. 29, O Quam Suavis Est Op. 76, Strophes Polyphoniques Pour Le Veni Creator Op. 28, Panis Angelicus Op. 80, O Salutaris Hostia Op. 21, Ave Verum Op. 3, Salve Regina Op. 5, O Quam Amabilis Es Op. 71, Jesu, Dulcis Memoria Op. 78, Adoro Te Op. 31, O Magnum Misterium Op. 53

6186c 1 CD $19.95 English Choral CDs

Holst Singers : The Evening Watch : 1 CD : Stephen Layton : Gustav Holst : 034571151700 : CDH 55170

Holst Singers : The Evening Watch

Review: This is a welcome reissue of a fine release, including several gems, performed with spirit and more than mere competence by the Holst Singers and Orchestra under Hilary Davan Wetton. The program starts out with the Two Psalms from 1912, scored for choir, string orchestra and organ, fine but not particularly memorable works. The Six Choruses for male voices and string orchestra op. 53 belong to a different league, but these complex pieces aren't exactly easy listening. The Seven Part Songs op. 44 are very fine works as well - they belong to the period of Egdon Heath and more or less to the same style; and they do indeed exhibit many of the same qualities; they really display Holst's ear for sonorities and delicate but interesting textures. At first listening they might come across as a little austere, but closer attention is rewarded by almost shimmering, subtle beauty. The Evening Watch op. 43 also belongs to the same group, but is in the end a less memorable work. The Nunc Dimittis is lovely.

Songlist: Two Psalms, Psalm 86, Good Friday, How Mighty are the Sabbaths, Drinking Song, The Evening Watch, Say Who Is This?, Angel Spirits of Sleep, Sorrow and Joy, Assemble, All Ye Maidens

6165c 1 CD $11.95 English Choral CDs

Holst Singers : Tormis : 1 CD : Stephen Layton : Veljo Tormis : 67601

Holst Singers : Tormis

Review: The Holst Singers are acclaimed as one of England's greatest non-professional choirs. The talent and commitment of the individual members and the leadership of their mercurial conductor, Stephen Layton, ensure that their performances are always of the very highest standards. Veljo Tormis (born 1930) is - along with Arvo Part - Estonia's most famous living composer, holding an almost mystic status in his home country. He is also the passionate and practical torch-bearer for folk-singing revival, and the integration of an ancient cultural inheritance into thoroughly modern, post-Soviet lives. Interestingly, he trained at the Moscow Conservatory and was steeped in Soviet instruction during his early musical life. His music is almost all written for choirs; few other composers have been so committed to one genre. Tormis's choral specialization marks him out from Bartok, Kodaly, Vaughan Williams and Grainger, whose pioneering interest in folksong was ultimately limited to the use of textless tunes in instrumental or orchestral works. For Tormis, the words and the music are inseparable. The Holst Singers have recently been invited to Estonia to perform Tormis's music - a great honor, and a mark of their mastery of this repertoire.

Songlist: Early summer's fairy tale, Soundlessly somewhere murmurings homeward, The grindstone game, The finger-binding game, The ship game, O, my gentle tender mother, Daughters of the Meadow Matron, The wave Rolls, Waking the birds, At Pasture, Shrovetide, Wee winkie mouse, Sang the father, sang the son, Singing aboard ship, It is late summer, Clouds are racing, Pale Light, Painfully red are the leaves, Wind over the barrens, Cold autumn night, Heather, I sing for my child, It's time for the little berry to sleep, Let the cradle swing!, Lulling, Childhood memory

8910c 1 CD $19.95 Estonian Choral Music

Holst Singers : Vespers - Grechaninov : 1 CD : Stephen Layton : Alexander Gretchaninov : CDH55352

Holst Singers : Vespers - Grechaninov

Review: Grechaninov was initially taught by Anton Arensky in Moscow, and then later, in 1890, he went to St Petersburg to study with Rimsky-Korsakov. It was he who influenced his style and helped him launch his professional career. After the Revolution, Grechaninov became increasingly uneasy in Soviet Russia, and in 1925 left for ever. In 1946 he took American citizenship. An unusually versatile and prolific composer, he wrote operas, symphonies, chamber music, over 250 songs, and a great deal of music for children. He has been described as the most representative composer of his generation writing for the Orthodox service. Vespers is part of the All-Night Vigil service, and Grechaninov's setting was composed, premiered, and published in 1912. This precedes Rachmaninov's setting by three years. It appears to have lain dormant for some eighty years until it was revived in America for its first performance of modern times in 1995.

Songlist: Now the Powers of Heaven, In Thy Kingdom, Lord, now Lettest Now Thy Servant, All Night Vigil

6174c 1 CD $11.95

Netherlands Chamber Choir : Darius Milhaud Choral Works : 1 CD : Stephen Layton : Darius Milhaud : 5206

Netherlands Chamber Choir : Darius Milhaud Choral Works

Review: The acclaimed Stephen Layton guest directs the choir on the works of Darius Milhaud (1892 - 1974). French composer Darius Milhaud belongs to the 1920s Jazz Age. A member of the famous French group of composers Le Six, he is best known for his ballet Le Boeuf sur le Toit (The Ox on the Roof'). He favoured bi-tonality, often used by Les Six. Milhaud was a part of the post World War I scene, after the late Romantic or 'impressionistic' styles of Debussy and even Stravinsky. Milhaud was fond of jazz and the Latin American rhythms.

Songlist: Cantique Du Rhone, Les Duex Cites, Devant Sa Main Nue, Naissance De Venus, Trois Psaumes De David, Promesse De Dieu

8387c 1 CD $15.95 Dutch Choral Music

Polyphony : A Christmas Present : 1 CD : Stephen Layton :  : Noel 2

Polyphony : A Christmas Present

Review: For over a decade Stephen Layton and Polyphony have been astonishing London audiences with their Christmas concert series: 'nothing crowns the year like the annual, exhilarating Eve of Christmas Eve performance of Handel's Messiah by the choir Polyphony under Stephen Layton'. Alongside extravagant oratorio performances, the group has presented a cappella programmes of Christmas music to audiences enthralled by the range of repertoire available. This compact disc brings together music from many of these acclaimed recordings.

Songlist: Silent Night, Sing Lullaby, All This Time, Ave, Maris Stella, Die Konige, O Morgenstern, Magnificat, Nativity Carol, The Sussex Mummer's Carol, A Hymn to the Virgin, Lully, lulla, tho little tiny child, Away in a Manger, O Magnum Mysterium, Bethlehem Down, A Spotless Rose, Chorale after an Old French Carol, What cheer?, Lullaby my Jesus, Shepherd's Pipe Carol

7971c 1 CD $9.98

Polyphony : At Twilight : 1 CD : Stephen Layton : Percy GraingerCrieg, Edvard : CDH 55236

Polyphony : At Twilight

Review: The pairing of music by Percy Grainger and Edvard Grieg at first may seem odd. In fact, though, the two composers were good friends. Grieg lauded Grainger's folk song settings as helping to create "an independent English music." The choral music of Grainger and Grieg on this CD, sung gloriously by Polyphony, was written in the early 1900's. Most of Grainger's settings are of English folk songs, though there are a few Irish and Scotch ones as well. The CD also includes a song from Grainger's native Australia (Track 18 Australian Up-Country Song). The Four Psalms by Grieg are his last completed works and are based on Norwegian church melodies. To further connect the composers, the English translations of the psalms were written by Grainger. This wonderful recording also features soloists tenor Paul Agnew and baritone David Wilson-Johnson.

Songlist: Percy Grainger:, Irish Tune from County Derry, Dollar and a Half a Day, Shenandoah, Stormy, The Gypsy's Wedding Day, Brigg Fair, Mo nighean dubh, O Mistress Mine, Edvard Grieg, Four Psalms, How Fair is Thy face, God's Son hath set me free, Jesus Christ our Lord is risen, In heav'n above, Ave, Maris Stella, Percy Grainger, Soldier, soldier, Mary Thomson, Ye banks and braes, Dalvisa, Australian Up-Country Song, Near Woodstock Town, The Sussex Mummers' Carol, A Song of Varmeland, At Twilight

7157c 1 CD $12.98 English Choral CDs

Polyphony : Benjamin Britten : 1 CD : Stephen Layton : Benjamin Britten : CDA 67140

Polyphony : Benjamin Britten

Review: Benjamin Britten is one of England's most revered composers of the 20th century. From operas to songs, he knew how to write for the voice. Well known for his works for children's voices, his writing for adult choirs is not as often performed. Polyphony, led by Stephen Layton, sings some of his great choral pieces. "Five Flower Songs," with texts by Herrick, Crabbe and Clare, range from the lush tones of "To Daffodils" to the harsher and stinging tones used to depict the more earthy plants described in "Marsh Flowers." Britten composed "Sacred and Profane" as a virtuoso display piece for Peter Pears' Wilbye Singers. The eight medieval lyrics are combined with difficult but exquisite harmonies to create amazing sounds.

Songlist: Five FLower Songs, A.M.D.G., A Hymn to thye Virgin, Choral Dances from 'Gloriana', Chorale after an Old French Carol, Sacred and Profane Op 91

7158c 1 CD $16.98 English Choral CDs

Polyphony : Esenvalds: Passion & Resurrection : 1 CD : Stephen Layton : Erics Esenvalds : 034571177960 : CDA67796

Polyphony : Esenvalds: Passion & Resurrection

Review: The live performance last year of this major and substantial work by the young Latvian composer Esenvalds thrilled critics and audiences alike. As a new liturgical work that looks set to enter the repertoire it is comparable to Arvo Part's Passio. Eschewing the single narrative perspective that characterizes the great Passion settings of the past, the composer has assembled an interlocking mosaic of texts from the gospels, from Byzantine and Roman liturgies, and from the Old Testament. Stephen Layton's commitment to new Baltic music is well-known and he has a deep understanding of the musical language of the area - reflected by performances of great integrity and passion. This recording is particularly splendid, featuring not only the matchless Polyphony and Britten Sinfonia but also Carolyn Sampson, acclaimed for her performances of early music on Hyperion but heard here to dazzling effect, crowning the performance with her extraordinary singing.

Songlist: Passion and Resurrection, Evening, Night Prayer, A Drop In The Ocean, Legend of the Walled-in Woman, Long Road

6184c 1 CD $19.95 Latvian Choral Music

Polyphony : John Rutter - Gloria and other Sacred Music : 1 CD : Stephen Layton : John Rutter : 67259

Polyphony : John Rutter - Gloria and other Sacred Music

Review: Gloria (a concert work, despite the use of a religious text) was commissioned by the Voices of Mel Olson in Omaha, Nebraska, who invited Rutter to direct the first performance in 1974. The words come from the second section (the Hymn of Praise) of the Ordinary of the Mass, which in the liturgy follows the 'Kyrie'. The familiar opening words are those of the angels proclaiming the birth of Jesus, as found in the second chapter of Luke's Gospel. Rutter's setting is based largely on one of the Gregorian chants with which the text is associated. He describes the three movements as 'roughly corresponding to traditional symphonic structure', the mood of the sections being respectively 'exalted, devotional and jubilant by turns'. The use of organ, brass and percussion makes for plenty of Waltonian punch in the outer movements and yet also for a hauntingly ethereal middle section. 'Delicious performances of Rutter's wonderfully approachable and finely crafted vocal writing. The sound, too, is outstanding' (Gramophone)

Songlist: Gloria I : Allegro vivace, Gloria II : Andante, Gloria III : Vivace e ritmico, Come down, O Love divine, Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace, To everything there is a season, I my Best-Beloved's am, Praise the Lord, O my soul, I Will Sing With The Spirit, As the bridegroom to his chosen, A Clare Benediction, The Lord is my light and my salvation, Go forth into the world, Thy perfect love, Te Deum

7989c 1 CD $17.98 English Choral CDs

Polyphony : John Rutter - Music For Christmas : 1 CD : Stephen Layton : John Rutter : CDA67245

Polyphony : John Rutter - Music For Christmas

Review: The performances are uniformly excellent; Stephen Layton and his Polyphony vocal ensemble have shown a previous affinity for Rutter's work and this effort simply reaffirms their commitment to and love for this very special music. With the first notes of the joyous "Shepherd's Pipe Carol," we know that Christmas is coming and John Rutter is the man when it comes to Christmas music! And on "Music," we have 22 of Rutter's finest carols, lullabyes and other Christmas songs, sung by talented mixed ensemble Polyphony, conducted by Stephen Layton and accompanied on most tunes by the City of London Sinfonia. Favorites are the wistful, unaccompanied "There is a Flower," "Sans Day Carol," "I wonder as I wander," the lilting, joyful "Jesus Child," "The very best time of year," "Angel Tidings," "Christmas Lullabye," the exciting "Star Carol," "Carol of the Children," "Mary's Lullabye," "Angels' Carol" and the final cut, "Donkey Carol." A very special Christmas collection, sure to become some of your family's favorite music of the season! Beautiful, extensive liner notes, with a wonderful painting of the Three Wise Men on the cover. Outstanding.

Songlist: Shepherd's Pipe Carol, Nativity Carol, There is a Flower, Sans Day Carol, What Sweeter Music, I wonder as I wander, Jesus Child, Wild Wood Carol, The Very Best Time of Year, Away in a Manger, Angel Tidings, Christmas Lullaby, Dormi Jesu, Love came down at Christmas, Star Carol, Carol of the Children, Mary's Lullaby, Silent Night, Angels' Carol, Candlelight Carol, Second Amen, Donkey Carol

7992c 1 CD $17.98 Mixed Choir Christmas CDs

Polyphony : John Rutter - Requiem and other Sacred Music : 1 CD : Stephen Layton : John Rutter : 66947

Polyphony : John Rutter - Requiem and other Sacred Music

Review: John Rutter composed his Requiem in 1985. The work follows the precedents of Brahms and Faure in using carefully selected texts in place of much of the standard Missa Pro defunctis sequence. The resulting composition has an arch-like formal structure within which is contained some of Rutter's most haunting (and, in the case of 'The Lord is my shepherd', well known) choral music to date. Also included are two items from the Birthday madrigals collection composed in honour of the jazz pianist George Shearing, and eight further sacred works. The double-choir Hymn to the Creator of Light is a wonderful composition, far removed from the romantic style with which Rutter has sometimes been associated; 'A disc to delight all those who admire Rutter's choral writing. Full of delights and with something for everyone. Certainly a must!' (Organists' Review)

Songlist: Requiem, Requiem aeternam, Out of the deep, Pie Jesu with ROSA MANNION soprano, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, The Lord is my shepherd, Lux aeterna with ROSA MANNION soprano, Hymn to the Creator of Light, God be in my head, A Gaelic Blessing, Cantate Domino, Open thou mine eyes, A Prayer of Saint Patrick, A Choral Fanfare, Draw on, sweet night, My true love hath my heart, The Lord bless you and keep you

7991c 1 CD $17.98 English Choral CDs

Polyphony : Jungle Book & other choral works : 1 CD : Stephen Layton : Percy Grainger : 55433

Polyphony : Jungle Book & other choral works

Review: This reissue commemorates the 50th anniversary of Grainger's death in February 1961. Harmonium, four guitars, two mandolas, two mandolins, two ukuleles, piccolo, three clarinets, bass clarinet, bassoon, contrabassoon, two alto saxophones, horn, strings, piano, baritone and choir: and that's just the scoring for one piece, the famous sea shanty Shallow Brown. Grainger's Jungle Book cycle is here recorded for the first time. The eleven contrasting movements vividly portray the sentiments of Kipling's poetry and Grainger wrote of the cycle that it was 'composed as a protest against civilization'.

Songlist: Shallow Brown, The fall of the stone, Morning song in the jungle, Night-song in the jungle, The Inuit, The beaches of Lukannon, Red Dog, The peora hunt, Hunting-song of the Seeonee pack, Tiger! Tiger!, The only son, Good-bye to love, Died for love, The power of love, The Rival Brothers, Six dukes went afishin', The sprig of thyme, Willow, willow, Recessional, Lord Maxwell's goodnight, The Three Ravens, The running of shindand, The love song of Har Dyal, My love's in Germanie

6127c 1 CD $11.95 English Choral CDs

Polyphony : Lauridsen - Lux Aeterna : 1 CD : Stephen Layton : Morten Lauridsen : 67449

Polyphony : Lauridsen - Lux Aeterna

Review: Stephen Layton directs his 21-mixed-voice Polyphony, which he founded in 1986 at King's College, Cambridge, in some of Morten Lauridsen's most beloved works, accompanied by the Britten Sinfonia. The 5 movements of title tune are first, and is as lovely (accompanied, of course) as we have ever heard it. "Madrigali: Six Fire Songs on Italian Renaissance Poems" follow, exuberant, spirited a cappella pieces. The recording concludes with Lauridsen's beautiful a cappella "Ave Maria," haunting, chantlike "Ubi caritas et amor" and the classic "O magnum mysterium." Lauridsen is pictured in the extensive liner notes giving his personal direction to the making of this very fine CD. The best of Lauridsen from talented Polyphony, directed by Layton, and with a wonderful Pre-Raphaelite painting of an angel on the cover-who could ask for more?

Songlist: Lux Aeterna, Madrigali: Six "Fire Songs", Ave Maria, Ubi Caritas et Amor, O Magnum Mysterium

7786c 1 CD $16.98 English Choral CDs

Polyphony : Lauridsen - Noctunes

Review: As their recording of Eric Whitacre had a chart-topping run on both sides of the Atlantic, Stephen Layton and Polyphony returned to the studio and put down a second disc devoted to the choral music of Whitacre's compatriot Morten Lauridsen. The popular cycles Mid-Winter Songs and Les chansons des roses (the final number of which, "Dirait-on," caused something of a publishing sensation on its first appearance) are joined by four premiere recordings: two early Psalm settings, and two new works written during the preparations for this recording. Performances from Layton and musicians are every bit as polished as we have come to expect. Polyphony is joined by the Britten Sinfonia for the Mid-Winter Songs, Andrew Lucas for the organ-accompanied Psalm and the composer himself on finger cymbals for Ave, dulcissima Maria. This new disc is certainly a worthy successor to the same forces' GRAMMY nominated Lux aeterna.

Songlist: Mid-Winter Songs, Les Chansons des Roses, I Will Lift up Mine Eyes, O Come, Let us Sing unto the Lord, Ave, Dulcissima Maria

8549c 1 CD $18.95 English Choral CDs

Polyphony : Lukaszewski - Via Crucis : 1 CD : Stephen Layton :  : CDA67724

Polyphony : Lukaszewski - Via Crucis

Review: Stephen Layton's first disc of Lukaszewski's choral works (with The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge) was widely praised by listeners entranced by the composer's unique yet accessible musical language. For this new release Layton and Polyphony, together with the Britten Sinfonia and a team of world-class soloists, have taken on a major work which is destined to become a modern classic in the vein of Tavener's The Veil of the Temple or Part's St John Passion. Via Crucis is a dramatization of the Stations of the Cross, a musical reading of this most solemn journey that evolves through its 55-minutes in an arc of culminatory ritual power.

Songlist: Introduction, Jesus is condemned to death, Universa Turba, Jesus takes up the Cross, Jesus Falls the First Time, Jesus Meets His Blessed Mother, Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry The Cross, Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus, Jesus Falls the Second Time, The Women of Jerusalem Weep for Jesus, Jesus Falls the Third Time, Jesus is Stripped of His Clothes, Jesus is Nailed to the Cross, Jesus Dies On the Cross, Jesus is Taken Down From the Cross, Jesus is Laid in the Tomb, The Resurrection, Christus Vincit

9130c 1 CD $16.95

Polyphony : Not No Faceless Angel - Music of Gabriel Jackson : 1 CD : Stephen Layton :  : 67708

Polyphony : Not No Faceless Angel - Music of Gabriel Jackson

Review: Polyphony's recordings of contemporary choral music are among Hyperion's perennial bestsellers and have introduced thousands of listeners to magical new worlds of sound. On this new disc, under their inspirational director, Stephen Layton, the composer Gabriel Jackson gets the Polyphony treatment. Jackson's uniquely appealing choral works have made him one of the most familiar names in the repertoire today. His liturgical pieces are in the repertoires of many of Britain's leading cathedral and collegiate choirs and in 2003 he won the liturgical category at the inaugural British Composer Awards. His music is deeply attractive: meditative, contemplative and unashamedly spiritual.

Songlist: To Morning, Song (I gaze upon you), Cecilia Virgo, Orbis patrator optime, Ave Maria, Hymn to the Trinity (Honor, virtus et potestas), Not no faceless Angel, O sacrum convivium, Lux mortuorum, Salve regina, Salve regina 2

9058c 1 CD $18.95 English Choral CDs

Polyphony : O Magnum Misterium : 1 CD : Stephen Layton :  : CDH 55216

Polyphony : O Magnum Misterium

Review: O magnum misterium combines the old with the new. On this CD of English carols from the 20th century, Polyphony interpolates Sarum chant to create a magnificent Christmas program. The carols were written by various English composers such as Herbert Howells, Peter Warlock and Richard Rodney Bennett and exemplify the great connection the English have with choral music. The Sarum chant, which was used at Salisbury Cathedral in place of the traditional Roman liturgy, is used purely to relieve the ear from the indulgent sounds of the carols. This CD includes Howells "A Spotless Rose" and "Sing Lullaby" which are possibly better known, but all of the songs are equally beautiful.

Songlist: O radix Iesse, Alleluya, A new Work is come on Hand, A Spotless Rose, Out of your sleep, Of a rose is all my song, There is no rose, As dew in Aprylle, O Magnum Mysterium, Bethlehem Down, That younge child, I saw a fair maiden, Sing Lullaby, Ave Maria, Sweet Was the Song, A Hymn to the Nativity, Lullaby my Jesus, Hodie Christus natus est, All and some, An Ode to the birth of our Saviour, Susanni, Puer natus est nobis, Benedicamus Domino, A Cornish Christmas Carol, Reges Tharsis, Here Is The Little Door, The Star-song, What cheer?, Lully, lulla thou little tiny child, Verbum caro factum est

7159c 1 CD $11.95 Mixed Choir Christmas CDs

Polyphony : Poulenc - Gloria and Motets : 1 CD : Stephen Layton : Francis Poulenc : HYP67623.2

Polyphony : Poulenc - Gloria and Motets

Review: Stephen Layton and Polyphony continue to blaze a trail as dazzling interpreters of a wide range of choral music. Here they turn to some of the most bewitching and distinctive choral works of the twentieth century. Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) imbued this well-loved music with a deep expression of his faith and unique personality. Each motet, with its own delightfully etched character, echoes the composer's study of Bach, Monteverdi, Palestrina, or Gabrieli, but remains stylistically progressive, containing Poulenc's ingenious chord progressions. The Gloria is one of his most enduringly appealing works. In some ways straightforwardly pious, it is also tinged with mischievous irreverence and a sense of rollicking enjoyment - facets which are deftly captured here by the soprano soloist Susan Gritton, Polyphony, the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, and the Britten Sinfonia, all led by Stephen Layton.

Songlist: Gloria in excelsis Deo, Laudamus te, Domine Deus, Domini Fili unigenite, Domini Deus, angus Dei, Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, Salve Regina, Timor et tremor, Vinea mea electa, Tenebrae factae sunt, Tristis est anima mea, O magnum mysterium, Quem vidistis pastores dicite, Videntes stellam, Hodie Christus natus est, Exultate Deo

8881c 1 CD $18.95

Polyphony : Tavener : 1 CD : Stephen Layton : John Tavener : CDA 67475

Polyphony : Tavener

Review: If John Tavener's music has always been concerned with eternity, and if it has always confounded those who have horizons no wider than Western traditions of the recent past, it is also true to say that the ways in which he has dealt with the sacred in his work have been characterized by considerable variety, and have never ceased on occasion to surprise. Initially, surprise was caused by his stripping away of the unnecessary, his quest for the musically - and therefore the spiritually - essential. This quest led to a vast outpouring of music, encompassing a great many miniatures and large-scale compositions of the stature of the Vigil Service and Eis Thanaton. 'The power of Tavener at his best is fully unlocked by Polyphony and Stephen Layton, whose sensitivity to the sacred and human in his music communicates in every work on this disc' (Classic FM Magazine).

Songlist: Birthday Sleep, Butterfly Dreams, The Second Coming, Schuon Hymnen, As one who has slept, The Bridal Chamber, Exhortation and Kohima, Shunya

8106c 1 CD $18.98 English Choral CDs

Polyphony : The Three Kings - Peter Cornelius : 1 CD : Stephen Layton : Peter Cornelius : 67206

Polyphony : The Three Kings - Peter Cornelius

Review: Peter Cornelius was born to actor parents and destined from early life to have a career centred on words and music. After early influences from Beethoven and Schubert, and studies of form and the composition of sacred music in Berlin, Cornelius's musical style matured under the tutelage of Liszt in Weimar. On their first meeting Liszt encouraged Cornelius to compose sacred music, however Cornelius then turned to the composition of opera and song whilst developing his natural gift in poetry. Choral works, however, remained an important part of Cornelius's compositions - many with sacred texts. Mention the name Cornelius to most music lovers and their immediate reaction will be 'Isn't he the man who wrote the song heard at Christmas - Three Kings?' Indeed he is and this piece can be heard on track 6 (Drei Konige). However, this disc also explores the other wonderful choral music written by Cornelius. All of these pieces deserve to be heard more!

Songlist: Requiem, Die Vatergruft, Drei Chorgesange Op 11, Der Tod, das ist die kuhle Nacht, An den Sturmwind, Die drei Fruhlingstage, Die Konige Op 8 No 3, Liebe: Ein Zyklus von 3 Chorlidern Op 18, Liebe, dir ergeb' ich mich!, Ich will dich lieven meine Krone!, Thron der Liebe, Stern der Gute, Der alte Soldat Op 12 No 1, Drei Psalmlieder Op 13, Busslied, An Babels Wasserflussen, Jerusalem, So weich und warm, Trauerchore Op 9 (men only), Ach, wie nichtig, ach, wie fluchtig, Nicht die Trane kann es sagen, Mitten wir Leben sind, Grablied, Von dem Dome, schwer und bang, Trust in Tranen Op. 14

8768c 1 CD $17.95 Mixed Choir Christmas CDs

Polyphony : Whitacre: Cloudburst and other Choral Works

Review: At the age of only 35, Eric Whitacre has already gained a reputation in the United States that many composers strive for a lifetime to achieve. The American Record Guide named his first recording one of the top ten classical albums in 1997, and the Los Angeles Times described his music as having 'electric, chilling harmonies; works of unearthly beauty and imagination'. His Water Night (included on this new recording) has become one of the most popular choral works of the last decade, and is one of the top-selling choral publications of all time. Whitacre's published works have sold well over 350,000 copies worldwide. And who better to represent an innovative young choral composer than Stephen Layton and Polyphony, award-winning exponents of twentieth-century choral music? Under Layton's directorship, Polyphony handles Whitacre's evocative and soulful music with consummate artistry; from the quiet intensity of Sleep to the breathtaking exuberance of With a lily in your hand, by way of the tender innocence of This Marriage (one of three premiere recordings on the disc), this new recording is a stunning showcase both for an up-and-coming young composer and also for the awesome talents of one of the UK's leading choirs.

Songlist: I Thank You God For Most This Amazing Day, I Hide Myself, Sleep, I Will Wade Out, Go, Lovely Rose, When David Heard, Hope, Faith, Life, Love, Cloudburst, With A Lily In Your Hand, This Marriage, Water Night, A Boy And a Girl, Her Sacred Spirit Soars, Lux Aurumque

7969c 1 CD $15.95

Polyphony : Handel Messiah : 2 CDs : Stephen Layton : George Frideric Handel : CDA 67800

Polyphony : Handel Messiah

Review: Annual live performances of Handel's Messiah at St John's Smith Square with Polyphony and Stephen Layton have become one of the highlights of the musical season. The joyful sincerity and brilliance of the performers has brought this familiar story to vivid life again and again. Now this wonderful experience is available on disc, recorded in 2008 for a new release that will surely prove a strong competitor even in a crowded market. Polyphony is joined by the Britten Sinfonia and a quartet of magnificent young soloists - all variously acclaimed as the premier Handel singers of the new generation.

Songlist: Messiah

4234c 2 CDs $19.95 Mixed Choir Christmas CDs

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