Music from the Chirk Castle Part-Books

To listen to this show, you must first LOG IN. If you have already logged in, but you are still seeing this message, please SUBSCRIBE or UPGRADE your subscriber level today.

Program: #10-22   Air Date: May 24, 2010

This disc (again with the Brabant Ensemble) presents a selection of works from the Chirk Castle part-books, a fascinating collection of devotional music from the Tudor period that remained hidden in the castle library for three hundred years. The disc is on Hyperion and is CD number CDA67695.



"The names Mundy, Parsons, Tye, Byrd, Tallis, and Sheppard are familiar to fans of 16th-century English choral music (Deane, Hooper, and Caustun slightly less so), but the works featured on this fine recording are not well-known and several have never before been recorded. Largely this is due to the fact that the manuscripts, copied into six part-books (one of which was lost somewhere along the way), were essentially removed from active use and packed away for nearly 300 years in the library of the Welsh castle where they had served the chapel choir, organist, and parishioners from around 1630 to the end of the 17th century.

"Although some of the selections are known from other sources--Byrd's O God give ear and do apply; Robert Parsons' Deliver me from mine enemies; John Sheppard's Submit yourselves one to another; Christopher Tye's Blessed are all they that fear the Lord--others are unique to the Chirk Castle part-books. Most important of these are William Mundy's monumental settings of the canticles Te Deum and Benedictus "for trebles" (given their first recording here) which, as the title implies, feature high treble voices while employing the most sophisticated contrapuntal techniques.

"I found Edmund Hooper's Behold it is Christ most memorable in its fearless and frequent use of cross-relations--a delightful contrast to the program's more well-behaved entries. William Deane, who apparently was the castle's first music director and who initiated the preparation of the chapel part-books, contributes some of the collection's more engaging and stylistically intriguing works--Deane seems to have learned a thing or two from his much older contemporary Byrd. Indeed, the concluding bars of the anthem O Lord, thou hast dealt graciously are among the disc's highlights.

"You will never hear a more judiciously balanced, vocally better matched, nor technically more accomplished choral group than the 12-voice Brabant Ensemble. Founder/director Stephen Rice has assembled an exemplary company of voices aligned with repertoire that ideally suits the group's size and configuration. Combined with excellently recorded sound--from the Merton College Chapel venue favored by many choral ensembles--this production offers a program that's not only historically significant but that's worthy of repeated listening--intellectually involving, aesthetically pleasing, and emotionally engaging. How can you go wrong with that? Highly recommended!"
--David Vernier,

1. WILLIAM MUNDY (c.1529-1591):Te Deum, for treble voices (from the Chirk Castle Part Book)

2. WILLIAM MUNDY: Benedictus, for treble voices (from the Chirk Castle Part Book)

3. WILLIAM BYRD (1539/40-1623): O God give ear, sacred song for 5 voices

4. ROBERT PARSONS (c.1530-1570): Deliver me from mine enemies, anthem for 6 voices (from the Chirk Castle Part Book)

5. ?THOMAS TALLIS ? (c.1505-1585): Christ Rising, anthem for 5 voices (doubtful, probably by W.Byrd)

6. EDMUND HOOPER (c.1553-1621): Behold it is Christ, partsong (from the Chirk Castle Part Book)

7. CHRISTOPHER TYE (c.1505-1573): Blessed are all they that fear the Lord, anthem (from the Chirk Castle Part Book)

8. ? ROBERT PARSONS? (c.1530-1570); Burial Service (Funeral Sentences), for chorus (doubtful)

9. WILLIAM DEANE (?1575-c.1638): O Lord, thou hast dealt graciously (Psalm 119), for 5 voices (from the Chirk Castle Part Book)

10. THOMAS TALLIS: Salvator mundi (I) (also set as "Arise O Lord" and "With all our hearts"), motet for 5 voices, P. 21

11. THOMAS CAUSTUN (c.1522-1569): Yield unto God the mighty Lord (Psalm 150), partsong (from the Chirk Castle Part Book)

12. ?THOMAS TALLIS?: Not every one that saith, offertory (doubtful)

13. JOHN SHEPPARD (c.1515-1558): Submit yourselves one to another, anthem (from the Chirk Castle Part Book)

14. (?WILLIAM?) PARSONS (fl.1545-1563): The Litany, for trebles (from the Chirk Castle Part Book)

15. JOHN SHEPPARD: O God be merciful unto us, and bless us (Psalm 67), partsong (from the Chirk Castle Part Book)

16. WILLIAM DEANE: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (from the Chirk Castle Part Book)

Composer Info

WILLIAM MUNDY (c.1529-1591), WILLIAM BYRD (1539/40-1623), ROBERT PARSONS (c.1530-1570), THOMAS TALLIS (c.1505-1585), EDMUND HOOPER (c.1553-1621), ROBERT PARSONS (c.1530-1570), CHRISTOPHER TYE (c.1505-1573), WILLIAM DEANE (1575-c.1638), THOMAS CAUSTUN (c.1522-1569), JOHN SHEPPARD (c.1515-1558), WILLIAM PARSONS (fl.1545-1563)

CD Info

CD number CDA67695.

Note: The contact information in this episode may be out-of-date. You can contact us at this current link.