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William Cornysh - Stabat Mater

After the release of this album it was discovered that there were two composers called William Cornysh, father and son.


Henry VIII of England met Francis I of France on a pasture near Calais: the Field of the Cloth of Gold, a lavish prototype for the jamboree Euro-summits of today. A notable difference, apart from some 2,200 sheep being consumed, was the presence of at least two composers: Jean Mouton (1459-1522) in the French camp, William Cornysh (1465-1523) in the English.

As part of the Choral at Cadogan series, the formidable Tallis Scholars gave a thoughtfully constructed programme of works by these composers, including an Ave Maria from both and culminating in Cornysh's five-part Magnificat, one of the glories of the era. These a cappella meditations, interweaving plainchant and polyphony, sober canon and rhythmic surprise, take the listener as near extraterrestrial as you can get sitting in a concert hall.

This style of singing may not attract the shouting headlines of opera stars but their virtuosity is equally exciting, their impact magical.

Fiona Maddox

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