John Taverner

Imperatrix inferni | Votive Antiphons & Ritual Music

Directed by David Skinner

John Taverner (d. 1545) is, arguably, the most famous of all early Tudor composers, and one who had a rather colourful musical and political career. His music represents the final flowering of late medieval English polyphony before the onslaught of mid 16th-century Reformation.

Much of the music on this recording centres around Taverner’s earlier career, including the three surviving large-scale Votive Antiphons. Included, too, is his sumptuous six-part Quemadmodum, which stylistically foreshadows true ‘Renaissance’ composition in England.


Track listing

1. Quemadmodum
2. Audivi vocem
3. Ave Dei patris filia
4. Dum transisset sabbatum
5. Mater Christi
6. Gaude plurimum
7. [Hodie nobis celorum rex ...] Gloria in excelsis Deo
8. O splendor glorie

In the press

“It presents two of John Taverner’s Marian antiphons...alongside other ritual works, highlighting his changing approach, his convergence on an expressive clarity that became the epitome of late-Renaissance style. Unchanging are his arching melodic lines, his eloquent harmonic language and his liking for rich, variously coloured textures. The vocal ensemble Alamire’s singing approaches perfection.”
- The Sunday Times

“the luminous timbre of Alamire's two contraltos makes a pleasant change from the sometimes hooty tones of choral countertenors. The whole ensemble, in fact, shares that luminosity. The purity of tone and accuracy of tuning throughout this programme are about as fine as I have ever heard...a sumptuous wash of sound that is at the same time highly intelligible.”
- International Record Review

“Mater Christi is near perfect in its shaping and David Skinner is right to praise Quemadmodem, whose extraordinary concision shows how far Taverner moved from the swashbuckling vigour of his youth....Taverner's successes are Alamire's, in the main...The singers respond in kind to the compact, reflective Mater Christi”
- Gramophone Magazine

“it contains some truly great music...The choir is very well directed by David Skinner who negotiates these expansive, arching structures with poise and insight...the female sopranos are at once delicate and sure-footed, and the cumulative effects from the whole choir in O splendor Gloriae are breathtaking.”
- BBC Music Magazine

“If Obsidian carries on like this, it'll have a 100% record. Founded only in the last couple of years, its handful of CDs features such performers as Fretwork; the Choir of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge; the QuintEssential Sackbut and Cornett Ensemble; Lynda Sayce and Andrew Lawrence King. It is the 13-strong (on these recordings) vocal consort, Alamire, directed by David Skinner which continues the label's winning streak of superb releases of Renaissance this time – in the first of an extremely ambitious and welcome survey of early English church music over a projected 30 volumes.”
- Classical Net

“The adult, mixed-gender Alamire is a superb group in any repertoire, but this may be its best release yet: it unlocks the mystery of Taverner, who is a difficult composer. […] The balance and clarity achieved by Alamire and director David Skinner in this group of Marian antiphons and other works are striking, but they never get in the way of a certain muscle and verve without which early English polyphony just becomes inert.”
- All Music, 9/10 review

“Alamire bring a real fervour to their singing ... radiates assurance ... [they] bring tremendous conviction ... everything about this release exudes quality ... I loved every minute of it.”
- MusicWeb International