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Blue Heron announces release of world premiere recording

Choir type: Professional Choirs
Voicing: Mixed
Blue Heron announces release of world premiere recording
Nicholas Ludford: Missa Regnum mundi
Part of a Major Project to Release Five CD's of Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks:
the largest extant source of Pre-Reformation English sacred music
 
Blue Heron proudly announces the release of the second installment in its 5-CD series of music from the Peterhouse partbooks, the largest and most important source of English music surviving from the period just before the Reformation (1547). This new recording, Nicholas Ludford: Missa Regnum Mundi (Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks, Vol. 2), is the world premiere recording of all the music included. The much-anticipated follow-up to Hugh Aston: Three Marion Antiphons, (2010), the new disc features Nicholas Ludford's radiant Missa Regnum mundi sung in a musical context like that of its probable original occasion, a festal mass for St Margaret, with plainchant items from the Proper according to the Use of Salisbury. The disc concludes with Richard Pygott's extraordinary Salve regina, one of the longest votive antiphons extant. The music is astonishingly beautiful and its story is fascinating.
 
Our understanding of English music from the early sixteenth century is seriously impaired by a historical tragedy, the destruction of most manuscripts of English sacred music during the religious upheavals of the 16th and 17th centuries. The Reformation regarded the florid music of late medieval Catholicism with disdain, if not outright hostility, and much was lost or deliberately destroyed by zealots. Fewer than ten significant sources survive from the period 1500-1547, much less than one might have found in just one well-stocked church music library at the time. The Peterhouse partbooks are the largest extant source and contain nearly 50 pieces not found complete anywhere else. Despite the enormous importance of this source to music history and the extremely high quality of much of the music contained in it, it has received short shrift from performers and musicologists alike owing to the fact that the tenor partbook, along with a portion of the treble, has been missing for centuries. This has prevented singers from performing the fifty pieces in the partbooks that survive complete in no other source-until recently, that is. Blue Heron's performances of the incomplete Peterhouse music rely on reconstructions by the English musicologist Nick Sandon, who over the course of his career has devoted much of his creative energies to the project.
 
Ludford and Pygott are almost completely unknown, but just as volume 1 of the series did for Hugh Aston, the new CD reveals these composers to be every bit the equal of the big names from the period such as Thomas Tallis. One scholar has called Ludford "one of the unsung geniuses of Tudor polyphony." Pygott was a member in turn of the household chapel choirs of Cardinal Wolsey and King Henry VIII, two of the best choirs in England, but almost none of Pygott's works have survived, and much of what does survive is now incomplete.
 
The CD booklet includes extensive notes by Scott Metcalfe on the Peterhouse partbooks, the music by Ludford and Pygott, and on the performance practice of music from the period. A detailed account by Nick Sandon of the Peterhouse partbooks, their place in history, and the process of restoring the missing music, may be found in the notes to the Volume 1 of the series, Hugh Aston: Three Marian Antiphons (BHCD 1002); the notes may also be read online at www.blueheronchoir.org/PeterhouseCDNotes.html. At Blue Heron's website (www.blueheronchoir.org) you will also find links to more information on the project, including recorded interviews with Nick Sandon and Scott Metcalfe.