CHOIR OF ST. LUKE IN THE FIELDS
PALESTRINA: MISSA TU ES PETRUSSacred Choral Music from 16th Century Italy
Giovanni Pierluigi Da Palestrina
CHOIR OF ST. LUKE IN THE FIELDS
DAVID SHULER, director
"This radiant new Palestrina recital from the Greenwich Village-based Choir of St Luke in the Fields commands tonal beauty and emotional flow that has a personal feel... Led by David Shuler, the 14-member choir move naturally with a pleasant dynamic range and a gentle colour palette. The waves of music they produce sound like they were designed to be performed for papal audiences in St Peter’s. These performances are concerned more with the warmth of human dialogue – with blending lines rather than maintaining their integrity – and less with achieving spiritual purity by being historically rigorous... The warm, spacious recordings provide an audiophile display of Palestrina’s vivid writing. The blending of the voices halfway through Tu es Petrus is quite astonishing. In Sicut cervus, as the choir relaxes into deeper regions of sound and dimension, the microphones capture the women with an especially lovely bloom."
Laurence Vittes, Gramophone [June 2019]
"if this recording is anything to go by (and I regret that I have not heard the choir before this) it must stand as one of the USA’s leading specialist choral groups in the field of sacred music... the recording location has done much to enhance the sense of sheer sumptuousness which informs this entire disc... Any successful performance of Palestrina relies on absolute clarity of texture and impeccable balancing of the polyphonic lines. Shuler achieves all that here, and while his singers certainly lack for nothing in clarity of texture and precision of tuning, they also show a remarkable transparency in their diction and a thorough awareness of the interweaving lines. Here is a choir which clearly listens as well as it sings... Shuler’s feel for this music, his expansive approach which allows the intricately detailed textures plenty of space to breathe and evolve, makes this a highly distinguished performance [of the Mass] in its own right... All of [the works] are delivered with such a strong sense of stylistic understanding that this could well be the stand-out Palestrina CD of recent times. In short, if you only have one Palestrina disc, this should be it, and if you already have several dozen, you need to add this to your collection. It really is a marvellous display of intelligent and perceptive music-making."
Marc Rochester, MusicWeb International [April 2019]
“If you love and enjoy Renaissance religious music, do not hesitate to acquire MSR’s recently released recording of Palestrina’s “Missa Tu Es Petrus” and five motets, destined to awaken the joy and peace within your soul... This recording is a highly polished, exactingly faceted, sparkling gem, combining the choir’s outstanding, transcendent performance, Palestrina’s renowned compositional genius and the MSR's absolutely clear, balanced and splendid recording and production... The recording of the Palestrina mass is among the finest recordings I have ever heard. I was stunned by it.”
Joel C. Thompson, Cherry Grove Music Review [February 2019]
“[The voices] are employed in ways that emphasize the clarity as well as the richness of Palestrina’s polyphony.”
Phil Muse, Atlanta Audio Society [February 2019]
“one of [New York City’s] finest classical choirs”
Time Out New York
“Both as an ensemble and as individual soloists, the members of the Choir of St. Luke in the Fields were consistently admirable.”
The New York Times
“[the Choir is] known for their adventuresome programming and intimate scale.”
Early Music America
PROGRAM NOTESLittle can be added to the exhaustive research that has been done about Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. He was the most celebrated Roman composer of his day and stands with Byrd, Victoria and Lassus as one of the preeminent voices of late 16th-century church music. Often credited as the “savior of church music,” he reconciled Tridentine liturgical reforms with the artistic elements of polyphonic church music. Although the directives from the counter-reformers certainly had an impact on his music, he was equally influenced by the rich musical heritage of the Franco-Flemish composers of a generation before. Palestrina was also significantly inspired by the first glimmerings of the Baroque, particularly in his polychoral works. His influence extended well into later generations, and can be seen in the works of composers like Gregorio Allegri in the 17th century and in the motets of Alessandro Scarlatti in the 18th century.
Throughout his later years, Palestrina remained a prolific composer, setting a standard for church music that endures to the present day. Throughout his career, he was profoundly influenced by the Franco-Flemish style; the number of imitation or parody Masses based on motets by northern composers stands as a lasting testament to that admiration. The stories surrounding his adherence to the dictates of the Council of Trent and the ultimate salvation of polyphony are more legend than fact. The committee to which Palestrina was invited indeed reviewed music for use in the church, but his appointment had more to do with his unmatched skill as a composer than as a pious, dogmatically driven adversary of polyphonic music. The belief that the Counter-Reformation set about to abolish polyphony is untrue. Certainly, the use of melodic sources whose secular use was inappropriate was frowned upon, but to suggest that the Council of Trent only endorsed homophonic music based on church sources misses the point. The specific directives regarding music were in fact left to the individual provinces, and a close examination of the breadth of style in Palestrina’s music reveals a composer of considerable technical breadth, sensitivity and spirituality.
David Shuler is presently Director of Music and Organist at the historic Church of Saint Luke in the Fields in New York, where he oversees an extensive music program. In addition to an active children’s choir program, a professional choir sings masses and motets from the 15th century to the present day at the principal services of the church throughout the year. The choir is featured in an annual concert series of sacred music, and has made numerous recordings. As a conductor, Shuler is highly regarded for his vibrant historically informed performances of early music. He is also active as a synagogue musician and is the Music Director of the Dalton Chorale in Manhattan. Shuler recently completed terms as President of the Association of Anglican Musicians and President of the Anglican Musicians Foundation. Shuler was educated at the Eastman School of Music, Columbia University and the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood. He studied organ with David Craighead and Leonard Raver, composition with Joseph Schwantner, Samuel Adler and Gunther Schuller, and conducting with Amy Kaiser.
The Choir of St. Luke in the Fields has been under the direction of David Shuler since 1988. As the resident vocal ensemble at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields, the Choir regularly performs music from the 15th century to the present. The choir appears frequently in concert and is known for its historically informed performances of early music. In 2003 the Choir presented the North American premiere of Georg Phillip Telemann’s St. Matthew Passion of 1746, in 2011 the first New York City performance of C.P.E. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion of 1769 and in 2013 the North American premiere of Telemann’s St. Luke Passion of 1748. In addition, the Choir has presented a number of premieres of new works, including the New York premieres of works such as Arvo Pärt’s Berliner Messe and Missa Syllabica, Dan Locklair’s Brief Mass. The Choir consistently receives praise for its concert performances.
THE CHOIR OF ST. LUKE IN THE FIELDS
Melissa Fogarty, Madeline Healey, Ava Pine, Amanda Sidebottom, Marcia Young
Kit Emory, Catherine Hedberg, Elizabeth Merrill
David Root, Christopher Preston Thompson
Phillip Cheah, Michael Hofmann, Peter Walker, Christian Waugh
Consultant: Ryland Angel
PROGRAMGIOVANNI PIERLUIGI DA PALESTRINA (c.1525-1594)
TU ES PETRUS | QUODCUMQUE LIGAVERIS
MISSA TU ES PETRUS
IV. Sanctus & Benedictus
V. Agnus Dei
SICUT CERVUS | SITIVIT ANIMA MEA
CANITE TUBA | RORATE CAELI
SURREXIT PASTOR BONUS | ET ENIM PASCHA NOSTRUM