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Great Organ Classics

Ref: CDG1026

22 tracks 71 min
Click here to preview trk 19

Ancient chant for quiet contemplation.

Restful sounds of timeless plainchant to soothe away the stresses of modern life. Music from long ago, from a less hurried age, when there was time to stand back and contemplate.

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Ancient chant for quiet contemplation

Music for Advent
1 Rorate caeli desuper
2 O sapientia
3 Ave Maria
4 Christe redemptor omnium

Music for Christmas
5 Puer natus est nobis
6 Viderunt, Omnes & Alleluia, Dies sanctificatius
7 Verbum caro factum est
8 Hodie Christus natus est

Music for Epiphany
9 Hosties Herodies
10 Reges Tharsis
11 Lumen ad relevationem gentium
12 Adorna thalamum tuum

Music for Lent
13 Emendemus in melius
14 Attende Domine
15 Tibi Domine derelictus est pauper

Music for Holy Week
16 Vexilla regis prodeunt
17 Nos autem gloriari oportet
18 Ubi caritas
19 Tenebrae factae sunt
20 Ecce lignum crucis

Music for Easter
21 Victimae paschali laudes
22 Salve, feste dies

Pro Cantione Antiqua

Over 1 hour of music
This compilation P & c 2002 Classical Communications
Made in Great Britain

Pro Cantione Antiqua, directed by James O'Donnell
James Griffett
Ian Partridge
Gordon Jones
Stephen Roberts
Michael George

Inside text:

The calming voice of this music, which is a thousand years old and more, speaks to us through the ages and remains as fresh as the day it was first written. Let your imagination roam, let meditative thoughts begin, by imagining a darkened cathedral in winter, with monks dressed in warm habits singing in the candlelight. Or imagine the same scene on a summer's evening, the doors of the cathedral left open to allow the full evening sun to flood in. Perhaps you could find yourself in the countryside at dawn, the mist rising from the valley and the birds singing gently. Gregorian chant can be what you want it to be. Its universal sound allows the mind to listen and to be free. It gives the imagination opportunity to think itself out of normal everyday life into a special, spiritual world of calm and orderliness.

Tradition has long credited Pope Gregory I with the development of the chant that bears his name, but Gregorian chant as we now call it has a much longer tradition. Gregory was Pope from 590-604 and it was under him that the papacy became a truly world power. His musical achievement was successfully to gather together the music of previous generations. This music had grown from several different cultures, Jewish and Christian. Gregory systematically categorised these ancient songs of Europe into musical groups with specific religious applications. Gregory is said to have established the schola cantorum (school of singers) to sing this wonderful repertoire and make sure that it could continue to be handed down from generation to generation.

Gregorian chant, then, comes from universal sources and from all cultures. It provides suitably neutral territory and style to allow it to appeal to all nationalities and types. It is sung in Latin, one of our most ancient languages, and this in itself gives the music an other-worldly appeal. It is the ultimate music to relax to - impersonal, gentle, slow, timeless, allowing the listener a breathing space in time to adjust from the frantic pace of the modern world.

It was not always seen in this way, though, and life in the sixth century was not necessarily much easier than it is now: Gregory's life style, first as secular politician and later as church leader on the international stage of the day, must have been frantic and rushed, and it is thought extraordinary that he should have found time for music at all. Perhaps he too valued it for its calming properties, although we should remember that not everybody found it so, and in later centuries attempts were made to ban Gregorian chant altogether because it was considered too sensual and distracting.

This selection follows the cycle of the church's year from the announcement of the birth of Jesus at Advent to his birth at Christmas. For Epiphany we have the story of the wise men (track 10) and of Herod slaying the little children (track 9) and then we follow the year through from Lent to Holy Week, Easter and the Resurrection.

But you don't need to know any of that in order to gain from listening to this extraordinary music, which, because it is so old and gathered from such a variety of places, goes deeper into our spirit than any other type of music. Its appeal is universal - more so than any other type of music - and timeless. Its antiquity gives it authority, and its sense of history and permanence gives us the calm that we seek in today's frantic world.

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