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“Miserere” – A musical journey directed by Nigel Short

Tenebrae with Jeremy Filsell - organ


Signum Classics – SIGCD085 [2004-2006 – 71 mins]


Tavener – Song to Athene; The Lamb

Ireland – Ex ore innocentium

Rachmaninov – Hymn to the Cherubin

Sheremetiev – Now ye heavenly powers

Britten – Hymn to St Cecilia

Lukaszewski – Ave Maria

Lotti – 8 part Crucifixus

Allegri – Miserere

Kodaly – Esti Dal

Tradd. Arr Short – The Dying Soldier

Holst – Lord who has made us for Thine own

Farris – Faire is the Heaven


“A journey through music of longing and entreaty, hope and faith” is the sleeve note description of this anthology which focuses on Allegri's famous Miserere as its central point. Certainly “journey” is a good description as the music spans three centuries, mixing familiar items with some that are more obscure. It encompasses texts from the Eastern and Russian Orthodox traditions besides those of Anglican and Roman Catholic origin, and sets these beside a Nigel Short's arrangement of an American Civil War lament.


Each piece is of individual interest and the compilation has been very skilfully done, working equally well on both a spiritual level or a contemplative one. I particularly liked Sheremetiev's Now ye heavenly powers , which was new to me, and Holst's Lord who has made us for Thine own is a long term favourite, The performance throughout is exemplary.


Tenebrae is a choir whose technical expertise lives up to its high reputation. The director, Nigel Short, was a member of the Kings Singers for seven years, and his experience has undoubtedly heightened the professional gloss on their approach. There is an extraordinarily good blend between the voices, and the mix of 3 counter-tenors and 2 mezzo-sopranos in the alto section is particularly felicitous.


A significant number of the choir members also pursue active solo careers a Ferrier Competition winner, no less, is to be found amongst the names listed on this recording. The result is as near perfection as can be hoped for this side of eternity, and I have no hesitation in recommending it very warmly.


Serena Fenwick