“Mater ora filium: Music for Epiphany” – Ch. Of Clare College, Cambridge/ Michael Papadopoulos, organ/ Graham Ross – HM

A fine English Christmas offering from a decidedly accomplished ensemble.

“Mater ora filium: Music for Epiphany” – Ch. Of Clare College, Cambridge/ Michael Papadopoulos, organ/ Graham Ross – Harmonia mundi HMU 907653, 72:44  (12/2/16) [Distr. by Harmonia mundi/PIAS] ****:

Though the Christians of the west don’t total ignore the feast of the Baptism of Christ (especially in the Roman Catholic Church), for the eastern church this has been the primary emphasis for nearly 1600 years. In the west the visitation of the “wise men” or three kings, has taken preference as a manifestation (the meaning of “epiphany” or “theophany”) to the gentiles. It is also known as “twelfth night” as the ending of the twelve days of Christmas, and the beginning of Epiphanytide.

Hence this disc of mainly English composers with a smattering of early music and non-British music has a distinct connection with the Nativity of Christ, and is properly included in any select group of fine Christmas CDs for the year. It will certainly appeal to the Anglophile in each of us, but aside from that, it is representative of the best of the particular composers listed, making it a wonderful experience from a simple perspective of great music appreciation. Clare College has emerged in recent years to the pinnacle of international recognition, and the fact that Graham Ross corrals these young men and women, who turnover every year, into such a unified and tonally suave unit is a testament to his innate musicality and leadership. Enjoy!

TrackList:
Bax: Mater Ora Filium
Berkeley, L: I sing of a maiden
Bingham, J: Epiphany
Byrd: Ecce Advenit
Clemens: Magi veniunt ab oriente
Cornelius: The Three Kings
Howells: Long, Long Ago; Here is the Little Door
Lasso: Omnes de Saba
Mouton, J: Nesciens Mater
Niles: I wonder as I wander
Palestrina: Tribus miraculis ornatum
Poulenc: Videntes stellam (No. 3 from Quatre Motets pour le temps de Noël, Op.152)
Sheppard, J: Reges Tharsis et insulae
trad.: O worship the lord; Hail to the Lord’s Anointed!; As with gladness men of old
Warlock: Bethlehem Down; Benedicamus Domino
Weir: Illuminare, Jerusalem

—Steven Ritter

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