Cover Hymn to the Virgin

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Album including Album cover Booklet (PDF)


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  • Benjamin Britten (1913–1976):
  • 1A Hymn to the Virgin03:21
  • Francis Poulenc (1899–1963):
  • 2Salve Regina04:23
  • Maurice Duruflé (1902–1986):
  • 3Ubi caritas02:26
  • Eric Whitacre (1970– ):
  • 4Lux aurumque03:48
  • Morten Lauridsen (1943– ):
  • 5O nata lux04:10
  • Martin Ødegaard (1983– ):
  • 6Komm10:05
  • Kjell Mørk Karlsen (1947– ):
  • 7O Magnum Mysterium05:52
  • Anton Bruckner (1824–1896):
  • 8Ave Maria03:19
  • Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873–1943):
  • 9Bogoróditse Dévo02:49
  • Arvo Pärt (1935– ):
  • 10Bogoróditse Dévo (2)01:14
  • Ola Gjeilo (1978– ):
  • 11Tota pulchra es06:28
  • Andrew Smith (1970– ):
  • 12Pulchra es tu Maria02:02
  • Andrew Smith (1970– ):
  • 13Stabat Mater05:06
  • Trond Kverno (1945– ):
  • 14Stabat Mater Dolorosa07:18
  • Total Runtime01:02:21

Info for Hymn to the Virgin

Thomas Aquinas writes in the Summa Theologica: “Music is the exaltation of the mind derived from things eternal, bursting forth in sound.” The quotation most aptly describes the repertoire on the chamber choir Schola Cantorum’s recording of hymns to Mary, the Mother of God, in which tranquillity, eternity and ‘bursting forth into sound’ are encountered in many different guises. The composers represented here have often chosen to allow their music to evolve in stable structures and remain within static harmonic spaces even when the music becomes expressive and dramatic.

The recording opens with British composer Benjamin Britten’s (1913–1976) A Hymn to the Virgin. The words, of unknown origin, are a mixture of English and Latin; Britten’s setting calls for two choirs, thus emphasizing the dual structure of the text. The verses in Latin are sung by a solo quartet as responses to the full choir. Both languages are crucial to the meaning of the poem as a whole, as is illustrated in the following example that deals with the Fall of Man and God’s mercy:

All this world was forlorn, Eva peccatrice Till our Lord was yborn, De te genetrice

A Hymn to the Virgin is one of Britten’s earliest works, dating from 1930 when he was still a student at the Royal College of Music, and his characteristically lucid, open harmonic style is already in evidence. In the course of the piece the opening divisions between question and response gradually develop into a through-composed work.

The music remains true to the words, organic and radiant. The offices of the Roman Catholic liturgy contain four Marian antiphons. Antiphons were originally sung as responses to biblical psalms, and gradually evolved into independent pieces. Francis Poulenc (1899–1963) set the antiphon Salve Regina in his distinctive mix of neoclassical effortlessness and sincerity. Unlike the ironic distance that might be said to characterize the music of many of the composers who moved in the same 1920s’ Parisian circles, there is invariably a more earnest undertone to Poulenc’s work. It is densely woven yet lucid, and Poulenc’s harmonic fingerprint is instantly recognizable. Salve Regina was composed after the Quatre Motets pour un temps de pénitence and before Figure humaine – Poulenc’s cantata for unaccompanied double choir to words by the surrealist poet Paul Éluard.

The composers represented here have often chosen to allow their music to evolve in stable structures and remain within static harmonic spaces even when the music becomes expressive and dramatic: Benjamin Britten, Francis Poulenc, Maurice Duruflé, Eric Whitacre, Morten Lauridsen, Martin Ødegaard, Kjell Mørk Karlsen, Anton Bruckner, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Arvo Pärt, Ola Gjeilo, Andrew Smith and Trond Kverno.

Schola Cantorum
Tone Bianca Sparre Dahl, conductor

Recorded at Gamle Aker Church, Norway, January/March/October 2011 by Lindberg Lyd AS
Recorded in DXD 24bit/352.8kHz

Schola Cantorum is among Norway's finest chamber choirs, established by the renowned composer and conductor Knut Nystedt in 1964. The choir is affiliated with the Department of Musicology at the University of Oslo and recruits most of their singers there and from the Norwegian Academy of Music. Their repertoire has a focus on contemporary Norwegian and Nordic music, with frequent commissions by younger composers. Schola Cantorum has in the recent years won several prices in international choir competitions, and released the CD 'Audiens' in 2009 - with modern secular choir music from Norway and the USA.

Schola Cantorum frequently collaborates with diverse and central Norwegian performers and ensembles, most recently with The Norwegian Radio Orchestra, The Norwegian Wind Ensemble, Unni Løvlid, Nordic Voices, Are Sandbakken and Dimmu Borgir. The choir has performed at the Oslo International Church Music Festival, the Ultima Festival, Oslo Jazz Festival and Oslo Chamber Music Festival. They have also recently performed in Italy, Sweden, Finland, South Korea, Russia and Denmark.

In 2011 the choir will arrange several concerts on their own, as well as collaborate with other ensembles and travel abroad. Schola Cantorum is also recording their second CD with conductor Tone Bianca Dahl. The record will be released on the label 2L Q2 2012, and features sacred choral music devoted to the Virgin Mary and focusing on Norwegian contemporary composers.

Tone Bianca Dahl
Tone Bianca Dahl is a conductor, singer, teacher, author and speaker on the subjects of communication and choral work. She is the conductor of Schola Cantorum, the chamber choir at the Department of Musicology at the University of Oslo. The choir receives ensemble support from the Norwegian Cultural Council and is considered one of the country's leading ensembles.
Tone Bianca is Associate Professor at the Norwegian Academy of Music in choral conducting, and teaches song at Oslo City Steiner-Waldorf school. In addition, she is frequently used as lecturer in Norway and abroad, and as a judge in international choral competitions. The last years she has been invited as a conductor or lecturerer to Sweden, Denmark, Finland, England, Isle of Man, Ireland, Wales, New Zealand, Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia, Iceland and Faroe Islands.

Booklet for Hymn to the Virgin

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