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Mystic Meaning
Music for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany

The Choirs of the Cathedral of St. John, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Reviews TS in Cathedral Music ". . . I was quite bowled over . . ." - [OAR-955]
$15.98

Choirs of the Cathedral of St. John, Albuquerque
Maxine Thévenot, Director of Cathedral Music & Organist
Edmund Connolly, Stephen Tharp, Organists


William Mathias: Toccata Giocosa for organ
George Frideric Handel: Daughter of Zion
Paul Bouman: Behold the Lamb of God
Jeremy S. Bakken: Jesu, Dulcis Memoria (First Recording)
Philip Moore: I sing the birth
Philip Moore: Love of Love (First Recording)
Philip Moore: What is the crying at Jordan? (First Recording)
Philip Moore: Bethlehem, of noblest cities  (First Recording)
Philip Ledger: Advent Calendar
Johannes Brahms (arr.): O Jesu, Joy of loving hearts
Robin Fullalove: Adam lay ybounden
Geoffrey Butcher: A babe lies in the cradle
Desmond Ratcliffe: Meditation on The Infant King  (First Recording)
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: I will sing of thy great mercies
Michael Praetorius: En natus est Emmanuel
John Joubert: Torches
Denis Bédard: Variations sur In Dulci Jubilo for organ
Maurice Duruflé: Prélude sur l’Introit de l’Épiphanie for organ

Reviews Lindsay Koob in The American Record Guide, Nov/Dec 2014:
     I've already reviewed a couple of very good recordings from this church's most excellent choirs, and I'm always glad to get another one.  Albuquerque's cathedral can lay claim to one of America's finest sacred music programs west of the Mississippi.  There are three choirs at work here, though their members often join forces or augment each other.  There's the Cathedral Choir and its sub-ensemble, the Cathedral Chamber Choir,as well as the Cathedral Choristers (children).
     The album is billed as an offering of music for Advent. Christmas, and Epiphany.  The 18 tracks cover a very nice assortment of familiar seasonal hymns, motets, and traditional carols--many of the latter in striking arrangements.  We also hear some very worthwhile original compositions by the likes of Jeremy Bakken, Philip Moore, Philip Ledger and Robin Fullalove.  We are further treated to a choice array of very enjoyable organ arrangements and compositions, played to perfection on the church's magnificent Reuter instrument by three different organists of considerable accomplishment:  Director Thevenot, her assistant Edmund Connolly, and guest organist Stephen Tharp. 
     The main Cathedral Choir and the chamber group drawn from its ranks are first-rate ensembles, as American church choirs go; very little, if anything, in the way of mainstream sacred music is beyond their capabilities.  The young Cathedral Choristers are very sweet-sounding and secure, though the music we hear from them is confined to unison melodies and simple part-singing.
     We get well-tailored sound, particularly for the organ pieces--always an engineering challenge.  The booklet has succinct notes, complete texts, and translations.


Reviews Timothy Storey in Cathedral Music, Fall 2014:
I am not sure quite what I expected of this, but I was quite bowled over by it. The Cathedral of St John in New Mexico's capital city boasts a multi-choir program (sic) typical of the USA's greater churches; the cathedral choir is a mixed-voice ensemble of forty-three adults including ten professional section leaders who form the nucleus of the eleven-strong chamber choir; there are also the cathedral choristers, fifteen boy and girl trebles, and finally (not included on this disc) there is a junior choir rather endearingly known as the Cherubs. The cathedral even has its own Friends of Cathedral Music to offer practical and financial support, including the commissioning of new works for the choirs. As the liner-notes tell us, 'this recording is not one that indulges in traditional carols or traditional texts made popular over the airwaves'. Three cheers for that! It is rather an anthology of choral and organ music appropriate to the seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany; especially welcome are the four works by Philip Moore, Organist Emeritus of York Minster, and the late Sir Philip Ledger's Advent Calendar to a text by Archbishop Rowan Williams. Most of the singing is done by the grownups, and their performances are full-toned, expressive and well controlled. The choristers' singing of Brahms, Handel and Mendelssohn is thoroughly delightful, bright-toned and tuneful, full of verve and enthusiasm. The cathedral organ is obviously an instrument of quality, well played and recorded here. Make sure you buy this splendid CD in time for Christmas.

Mystic Meaning -- Introduction
by Maxine Thevenot

The title of this recording, Mystic Meaning, is drawn from the text of Bethlehem, of noblest cities. When I heard those words, particularly when they were married with the beautiful musical setting written by Philip Moore and recorded on this disc, a few biblical events which have mystic meaning came to mind: the angel Gabriel coming to speak to the virgin Mary to tell her that she was with child; the events surrounding the birth of Jesus the Christ-child; the long and what must have been arduous travels of the magi to the manger; and the bewilderment and wonderment of the husband, Joseph, through most of these events.

Advent signals the start of a new liturgical year and is a season which, for some, marks the beginning of annual traditions. It is a time of waiting in hope, a time for preparation. A time of waiting for God's coming just as the world waited so many years ago. A time to prepare for Jesus' birth through prayer, reflection, and action. As you will hear on the recording, in the words of former Archbishop Rowan Williams set by composer Philip Ledger, "He will come like last leaf's fall. He will come like frost. He will come like dark. He will come like child." As the final verse of Jeremy Bakken's setting of the text Jesu Dulcis Memoria puts it, "Jesus! Our only hope be Thou, As Thou our prize shalt be."

The 12 days of Christmas are often misrepresented in today's busy world. There is the misguided notion in the secular world that Christmas is but one day of the year, the day of Jesus' birth. Present day marketers and advertising agencies would also have you believe that Christmas begins long before the season of Advent begins. Let this recording encourage you to take one of those 12 days to reflect upon the powerful meaning of these wonderful texts so thoughtfully set by the composers. In the words set by John Joubert, "Sing, my friends, and make you merry; joy and mirth and joy again."

We hope that this time of reflection will offer you the opportunity for religious discovery and, through deeper understanding, the chance to share a closer relationship with God. We hope that by reading the texts and translations you might reach some sort of state of enlightenment, perhaps even an epiphany of your own.

This recording is not one that indulges in traditional carols or traditional texts made popular over the airwaves. This recording explores the poetry of writers and, with a few exceptions, modern musical voices of living composers. This recording offers organ solo works that can be played during the seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Five of the works recorded here are premiere recordings. Through these poets, composers and interpreters we hope to offer you a celebration of the human capacity for wonder and tenderness, and offer a fresh perspective on a traditional story.

<font color=red>Mystic Meaning<BR>Music for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany</font><BR>The Choirs of the Cathedral of St. John, Albuquerque, New Mexico<BR><font color=red>Reviews TS in <I>Cathedral Music</I> \". . . I was quite bowled over . . .\"</font>
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