The Sixteen / Harry Christophers

Music of the Kingdom

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Though it's not clearly indicated on the packaging, this is a compilation of music from no fewer than 10 previous CDs by the Sixteen, plus one newly recorded track (William Byrd's O Lord, make Thy servant Elizabeth). The idea, as the title suggests, is to collect pieces somehow inspired by the British monarchy, from the imposing Handel Coronation Anthems that frame the program to a cappella music including quieter pieces like the "Sanctus" from Thomas Tallis' Missa Puer natus, probably celebrating the pregnancy of Queen Mary in 1554. It's surprising in the Handel just how much volume 16 singers can produce, and in general the pieces are imposing in ways that befit the theme. With the exception of an excerpt from Benjamin Britten's Gloriana, marking the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953, all the pieces are from the Renaissance or Baroque periods. But the variety represented in the compilation by Robin Tyson is impressive, and the program includes such novelties as Edmund Turges' From stormy windes (late 15th century), a prayer for the safety of Prince Arthur, brother of Henry VIII. (It was all for naught; Arthur died, and Henry assumed the throne.) The pieces come from various perspectives and don't just try to project sumptuousness, although that's the dominant mood; sample Robert Ramsey's lovely and little-known setting of When David heard (track 9), which was used as a funeral piece for Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, in 1612. The grand result is a colorful collection of music that offers new perspectives even though the recordings weren't designed to be together, all of it performed to the Sixteen's usual high standards, and remastered so that differences in sonic environment are minimized.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Zadok the Priest, HWV 258
1 5:45
2 3:08
3 8:15
4 2:35
5 2:18
Ode for Queen Mary's Birthday (Love's goddess sure was blind)
6 2:04
7 3:02
8 6:37
9 2:50
10 4:36
Missa Puer natus
11 4:44
Missa Dum sacrum mysterium
12 6:44
13 4:56
14 6:41
The Complete Funeral Music for Queen Mary (Order of Service at The Burial of the Dead)
15 2:01
Let thy hand be strengthened, HWV 259 (Coronation Anthem)
16 3:05
17 3:42
18 2:01
blue highlight denotes track pick