New York Polyphony

Tudor City

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Tudor City is an Avie Records CD by New York Polyphony, a male vocal quartet based out of the city that never sleeps. This disc was recorded in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, a New York City landmark making a comeback in the wake of a devastating fire in 2008 that altered it forever; New York Polyphony makes use of another New York landmark, the illuminated sign atop ex-hotel Tudor City, as a means of illustrating both concept and the front cover of this collection. Tudor City is, for the most part, made up of music that itself has been proven by fire; English service music written around the time of the Tudor Dynasty. It is high in quality and short in supply, as events within the English Reformation wreaked a heavy toll on the sources of such music; however, New York Polyphony presents a handsome selection, ranging from a piece taken from the so-called "Worcester Fragments" dating from the 14th century to music of William Byrd. Music of contemporary composer Andrew Smith is scattered at points throughout the program; it both coalesces and contrasts with the main selection, being similar in texture but considerably different in color and it is decidedly no less attractive than the other music on the program.

The Cathedral carries with it a very long decay, which works beautifully in some instances and is less than ideal in others; the long trail of the reverberation sometimes obscuring the carefully wrought polyphony sung by the group. But for most ears it will be fine and throughout this is a very beautifully sung and considered selection; anyone with a taste for unaccompanied vocal music should try it out.

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