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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Wylkynson's Salve Regina for 9 voices (from the Eton Choirbook [wiki], one of the priceless treasures of the classical music tradition - and Wylkynson might have copied it into the choirbook himself!) is currently on the 88th tier of the Talk Classical community's favorite and most highly recommended works.

Wikipedia only has a tiny little article about Wylkynson and nothing specific about this work, so let's see what some other people have said about it:

"... a brilliant example of the English love of extravagant sonority, here with a rich nine-voice texture spanning soaring trebles to plummeting basses. And the alternation of intricately figured, more intimate scorings with the full texture gives a very satisfying and dynamic contour to the expansiveness of the piece. Additionally, conceived as an angel composition-the nine voices correspond to the nine orders of the celestial hierarchy-the contextual richness offers an imaginative frame for a truly extraordinary work."

-- Steven Plank, Professor of Musicology, Oberlin Conservatory

The nine voices and the corresponding nine orders of angels (in a scheme probably originating with the great Christian mystic, probably Syrian, now generally known as Pseudo-Dionysius [or Denis] the Areopagite) are:

Quatruplex: Seraphim
Triplex: Cherubim
Medius: Thrones
Primus Contratenor: Dominations
Secundus Contratenor: Principalities
Tenor: Powers
Inferior Contratenor: Virtues
Secundus Bassus: Archangels
Primus Bassus: Angels

If you haven't seen voice parts labeled "Inferior contratenor" before, here's an explanation.

Well, that's nice but maybe that Plank fella is a liar or something. Let's see if anyone agrees with him.

Paul McCreesh calls it "Robert Wylkynson's amazing nine-voice Salve regina," but of course he's selling his CDS.

Magnus Williamson, professor of Early Music at Newcastle University, says it is one of "the two most extraordinary pieces in the choirboy" in a very interesting study on the correspondences between Wylkynson's music and the iconography of the Eton College chapel in which they were first performed. Of course he might not know what he's talking about any more than that Plank fella.

Peter le Huray, author of Music and the Reformation in England (and ahead of his time way back in 1968, the bad old days from an early music POV), noted that in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, despite their apparent ignorance of the innovations pioneered by Josquin and his students, "Englishmen were using vocal sonorities in ways that were undreamed of abroad. One of the richest and most particularly English [due to the sonorities] of the Eton Choirbook compositions is the Salve Regina ... by Robert Wylkynson, containing some astonishingly sonorous passages for full choir of nine separate voices. The placing of the voices in the best music of this kind is most skillfully managed, and the general choral range of three octaves and more imparts a depth and brilliance of sound that not even the Venetian polychoral composers quite managed to equal."

Richard Turbet says that this work is in nine parts "but in none of its many recordings does it ever sound muddy, so sensitive is the composers ear to sonority, balance, and clarity."

Well, that's starting to add up. Maybe this is a decent work after all. I like it myself, I have to admit. But I'm no scholar nor nothing. Just a guy. Posting on the internet. Asking it to love a work of Renaissance music.

That brings us to the main questions of this thread, which are: Do you like this work? Do you love it? Why? What do you like about it? Do you have any reservations about it?

And of course, what are your favorite recordings?

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
For those of you tubers who like to play fast and loose with copyright, here's a "video" of the recording by Harry Christophers and The Sixteen:

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