The inspiration for this recording was the devastation and despair of the Canterbury earthquake of February 22, 2011. The image many of us will take from this catastrophe is the ruin of ChristChurch Cathedral, a building that means a great deal to me personally: I served there first as an Organ Scholar, and later as Assistant Organist while completing my undergraduate degree in music at the University of Canterbury. Many years later, and now the Organist and Director of Music at Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, I felt compelled to do what I could do to help my friend and mentor Brian Law maintain the wonderful standard of performance and training of ChristChurch Cathedral Choir, who continue to lead worship in Christ’s College Chapel, within sight of their ruined home.
So what better work to record as a fundraiser than Antoine Brumel’s Missa Et ecce terrae motus, otherwise known as The ‘Earthquake’ Mass? One of the most famous examples of Renaissance vocal writing, the 12-part Mass takes its nickname from the plainsong antiphon ‘Et ecce terrae motus’ (And the earth moved), sung at the office of Lauds on Easter Sunday. This short melody is heard in long notes as a cantus firmus and often in canon, while the remaining parts weave hypnotic imitative figures around it. The overall effect of the Mass is comparable to Tallis’s well-known Spem in alium, where slow-moving harmonies are decorated with florid counterpoint. Certain points, including the ending of the Kyrie and the ‘miserere nobis’ section of the Gloria, seem to emulate the shifting ground with wildly-oscillating notes churning around throughout the texture. In addition to the Brumel Mass, we are delighted to present the premiere recordings of two works that we commissioned from two of New Zealand’s most experienced and talented composers: Jack Body and Ross Harris. As part of the REAL New Zealand Festival that coincided with the the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, The Tudor Consort performed a concert entitled ‘Made in New Zealand’. The programme consisted of entirely New Zealand a cappella choral music, and featured these two newly-commissioned pieces with the support of Creative New Zealand. The brief given to the two composers was to use an ancient piece of music as a starting point for their new creation. We are delighted with the results, and record Psalm 137 and Vobsicum in aeternum here for the first time.
Music Director, The Tudor Consort
This disc is also available as a digital download from iTunes.
1. Psalm 137 - Jack Body
2. Vobiscum in aeternum - Ross Harris
Missa Et ecce terrae motus - Antoine Brumel
8. Agnus Dei
The Tudor Consort
Directed by Michael Stewart
Producers: Richard Apperley and Kyle Macdonald
Engineer and post-production: Richard Apperley