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Angelus: French Sacred Song

Marking the hours of the day by praying the Angelus is a tradition dating back to the eleventh century. By the early twentieth century, this devotional prayer was given musical life in Louis Vierne’s triptyque for voice and organ of the same name, whose first and last movements’ timeless quality is imbued with the repetition of the tolling Angelus bell hidden within the accompaniment. The sound of this bell is a recurring theme in this recording, captured in the glorious acoustic of Buckfast Abbey, where the Angelus continues to sound to this day – an unbroken link through the centuries. The lyrical writing of these songs of veneration is given enchanting voice by Sarah Fox, together with a number of premiere recordings including Olivier Messiaen’s O sacrum convivium, performed in its original guise for solo voice and organ.

“The Angelus makes a fascinating theme for this exquisite recital… Fox is splendid throughout, bringing expressive directness to Roger-Ducasse’s Ave Regina cælorum, while her rich vibrato and burnished radiance are on display in Chausson’s harmonically quirky Pater Noster. The delectable performance of Messiaen’s O Sacrum Convivium! in its soprano and organ incarnation is a genuine rarity… Overall, a rewarding recital to enjoy at any time of day.” (BBC Music Magazine)

*Recording of the Month* “…the balance of voice and instruments is perfectly judged and Sarah Fox sings with exceptional vocal beauty while never ceasing to pay attention to the words she is singing… In its mixture of the relatively familiar and the largely unknown, its superb performances and excellent recorded sound, and the joy of hearing the magnificent Ruffatti organ, this is an outstanding disc.” (MusicWeb International)

“…this is a marvellous treasury of French sacred music to which Rupert Gough, Sarah Fox and Cecily Beer collaborate with a wonderfully intuitive sensitivity, bringing to each song (and two solo organ pieces) a demonstrable affection. Full texts, organ specifications and full colour images, along with the aforementioned notes, are all impressively packaged. This exceptional disc is not to be missed!” (Opera Today)

This beautifully produced disc is full of delightful surprises… The performances on this recording are first-rate. Sarah Fox’s vocal control is impeccable and the variety of timbres she achieves brings out welcome contrasts throughout the programme. Rupert Gough uses the Ruffatti organ at Buckfast Abbey to great effect… There is much to enjoy here; less familiar but very rewarding repertoire from a range of well-known composers, performed with considerable verve and style.” (Organists’ Review)

Amid the wealth of 19th- and 20th-century French repertoire for organ and choirs, it’s perhaps easy to overlook the writings at the time for smaller musical forces. This CD of French sacred song, recorded with the excellent Ruffatti organ in Buckfast Abbey, attempts to redress this imbalance… Sarah Fox’s voice is well suited to this repertory – hers is a mature yet clear and controlled tone. Rupert Gough is a first-class accompanist, combining both agility and expressiveness such as in Messiaen’s O sacrum convivium, performed here in its earlier incarnation for solo voice and organ.” (RSCM Church Music Quarterly)

Sarah Fox and Rupert Gough on Buckfast Abbey’s splendidly simpatico Ruffatti organ are an eloquent paring. Fox’s beautifully poised, exquisitely involved soprano positively glows with becoming radiance… Cecily Beer’s dexterous harp adds piquant delicacies in several pieces.” (Choir & Organ)

This is a lovely song recital by one of our most starry sopranos, Sarah Fox… This is all a real treat, and one is immediately struck not only by the exquisitely projected vocal line but the convincingly authentic sound of the organ accompaniment… Overall, a most carefully curated programme, exceptionally well performed and recorded…” (Cathedral Music Magazine)


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Track List

Louis Vierne

Les Angelus (Op. 57)

10:47

1

Au matin

3:33

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2

À midi

2:49

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3

Au soir

4:25

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4

César Franck

Panis angelicus (Messe à trois voix, Op. 12)

3:35

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5

Jean Roger-Ducasse

Ave Regina cælorum

2:08

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6

Jean Roger-Ducasse

Salve Regina

2:31

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7

Henri Büsser

Le sommeil de l’enfant Jésus (Op. 3, No. 3)

4:11

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8

Ernest Chausson

Pater noster (Op. 16)

2:32

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9

Louis Vierne
arr. Rupert Gough

À l’Angélus du soir (Op. 17, No. 5)

5:04

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10

Jean Langlais

Ave Maria

1:50

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11

Jean Langlais

O salutaris

3:02

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12

Olivier Messiaen

O sacrum convivium

4:06

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13

Jean Langlais

Angélus (Huit chants de Bretagne, Op. 161)

5:28

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14

André Caplet

Pater noster

3:39

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15

Lili Boulanger

Pie Iesu

4:11

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16

Nadia Boulanger

Lux æterna

2:21

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Flor Peeters

Speculum Vitæ, Op. 57

14:32

17

Night

4:14

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18

Morning

2:58

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19

Midday

3:38

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20

Evening

3:42

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