Chorus vel Organa: Music from the Lost Palace of Westminster

Reviewed on Tue 19 Jul, 2016

Although William Cornysh’s Magnificat has an impressively medieval solidity about it, Nicholas Ludford’s Missa Lapidaverunt Stephanum – the 'Gloria' and 'Agnus Dei' are given here – is the standout work: a honeyed, mellifluous masterpiece.

The 'lost' palace under consideration here is the collegiate chapel of St Stephen, founded in 1348 on the site of the modern Houses of Parliament. The pre-Reformation repertoire (much of which derives from the so-called Caius Choirbook) dates primarily from 1517 to just before the college was transformed into a meeting place for the Commons in 1548, and features three composers associated with the old institution: Nicholas Ludford, William Cornysh and John Sheppard. Although Cornysh’s Magnificat has an impressively medieval solidity about it, Ludford’s Missa Lapidaverunt Stephanum – the 'Gloria' and 'Agnus Dei' are given here – is the standout work: a honeyed, mellifluous masterpiece for between two and five voices (sample the especially beautiful duet writing for the high voices in 'Qui tollis peccata mundi' for example). The Choir of Gonville and Caius College produces a wonderfully rich tone that does full justice to this opulent music.
–Mark Walker