In the 1540s Thomas Bull compiled partbooks for the Canterbury Cathedral Choir. They were only in use for a few years, as Edward II dissolved professional choirs. The books were stored in Peterhouse College and all but forgotten.
Blue Heron has brought this music back to life, with scholarly research and committed performances. This is the fifth and final volume of their traversal through the Peterhouse Partbooks.
The centerpiece of the release is an anonymous Missa sine Nomine. It’s a model of English Renaissance choral writing. The contrapuntal writing is a bit restrained. But each line is beautifully crafted, making for a pleasing whole.
Also included are works by composers who are all but ciphers today – Hugh Sturmy, Robert Hunt, and John Mason. Even so, it’s thrilling to hear this music. Each piece is a finely crafted gem.
Blue Heron performs to their usual high standard. The ensemble has a warm, rich sound. The recording venue provides just the right amount of ambiance — enough to give the music a luminous glow, without smearing the individual lines.
Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks, Vol. 5
Blue Heron; Scott Medcalf, director