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PARSONS, R.: First Great Service / Responds for the Dead

Composer(s):Parsons, Robert
Artist(s) Voces Cantabiles, Choir • Smith, Barnaby, Conductor
Period(s) Renaissance (1400-1600)
Genre Classical Music
Category Choral - Sacred
Catalogue 8.570451
Label Naxos
Quality   320kbps
Album Price
 
CD
USD 9.99
 

 
MP3
USD 6.99
 

 


This recording aims to provide Robert Parsons, who died tragically in his forties, with a memorial service he never received and aid his return to a place alongside the greatest English Renaissance composers. Movements from the First Great Service, scored for two antiphonal choirs, provide the core of this ‘remembrance service’ for Robert Parsons. In scale and polyphonic grandeur the work maintains the old Catholic tradition, while making use of the new Protestant liturgy with its revolutionary setting of the 1549 English texts. Interspersed between movements of the First Great Service are a number of pieces taken from the Responds for the Dead, set to Latin texts. The Magnificat, which opens this recording, is the largest-scale single work

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Review By Penguin Guide,January 2009

Robert Parsons was a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal from 1563 until his death in 1572 when he as drowned in the River Trent. He was succeeded by William Byrd, but his music then fell out of the performing repertoire. Not only was his Great Service revolutionary in setting the English texts but it was also one of the first settings to attempt a musical unification between the different movements. As this disc shows, he was a master of polyphony and his First Great Service was probably the model for both Byrd and Tomkins. The Liturgy, interspersed with items from the Responds for the Dead, is very English in flavour, freshly and euphoniously so, making this yet another Naxos issue to expand our range of repertory. Barnaby Smith and his Voces Cantabiles make a

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Review By William Yeoman,Limelight Magazine,June 2008

Voces Cantabiles is a mixed-voice choir, though it does use exclusively male altos; the resulting sound is very close to that of a traditional cathedral choir, though with an added strength and security in the soprano line. Both choir and conductor prove trustworthy advocates of Parson’s music. The disc opens with the Magnificat, and the listener is immediately struck not only by the richness and complexity of Parsons’ writing but the vibrancy and clarity of Voces Cantabiles’ singing. This latter becomes even more apparent in the First Great Service, which is scored for double choir while providing ample scope for soloists to contribute to an overall atmosphere of luminous dignity. …The recorded sound is bright and attractive, while Smith’s

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Review By David Denton, Naxos,December 2007

The name of Robert Parsons has been consigned to a brief mention in the history of English music. If there is any justice in the musical world, this recording will restore him to the list of great 16th century composers. In some measure it may well have been the suspicious circumstances of his death by drowning in 1572, at the age of 42, that hastily removed his music from the repertoire of the Chapel Royal of which he served as a 'Gentleman'. While in the service of the royal family it is known that he was a prolific composer who fitted into the new Reformation of the English Church under the recently crowned King Edward VI, Parsons being responsible with Shepherd and Tallis in setting to music the new English church texts. I will not extend this introduction further, as the

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