www.musicacontexta.com © 2011                    








Gregorian Chant: Midnight Mass for Queen Mary Tudor

Herald HAVPCD195

Recorded in: Charterhouse Chapel, September 1995

John Sheppard: Missa Cantate, Verbum caro, Laudes Deo


Until the recent discovery of his will, the biographical mist hanging over John Sheppard (c.1515-59) was virtually impenetrable. We still know nothing of his early years but at least we know a good deal about his later professional life. In the late 1540s Sheppard moved to London, where his name appears in Chapel Royal lists until his death in January 1559. In this liturgical reconstruction, Musica Contexta present Sheppard’s most elaborate mass setting in the atmospheric context of the First Mass of Christmas, as it might have been celebrated in the Chapel Royal during the reign of Queen Mary.





Between 1997 and 2001 Musica Contexta recorded Palestrina’s music for Holy Week in three highly acclaimed discs for Chandos. Mostly of unrecorded music, the series was unanimously acclaimed as revelatory by critics.

‘Palestrina at his most expressive…I can recommend the whole set without reservation.’ Jeremy Summerly, Radio 3 CD Review



Palestrina:Music for Maundy Thursday


Catalogue: CHAN0617

Recorded in: All Hallows Church, Gospel Oak, London, 23 - 25 October 1997

Palestrina: Lamentations for Maundy Thursday I-III (Book III), Benedictus, Miserere mei. Chant: Guidetti, Rome, 1587

 ‘This is a seriously beautiful disc… these works shine with an extraordinarily moving, sombre dignity’. Classic CD – CD of the Month

‘Astonishing intensity and dark passion… a revelation’. Fiona Maddocks, The Observer

‘Extraordinary richness of expression… a wealth of humanity and an acute spiritual response’. Daily Telegraph

 '…the blend of voices is excellent, pitch is suitably low and the performances are beautifully poised.'Early Music 

A revelationMusica Contexta respond magnificently to this music…. superbly controlled but at the same time deeply felt singing.' Ivan Moody, Goldberg




Palestrina:Music for Good Friday


Catalogue: CHAN0652

Recorded in: All Hallows Church, Gospel Oak, London, 20-22 April 1999

Palestrina: Lamentations for Good Friday I-III (Book III), Vexilla Regis, Crux fidelis – Pange lingua, Improperia. Chant: Guidetti, Rome, 1587

 ‘When I put this on I simply didn’t want it to stop’. Andrew McGreggor, Radio 3

‘Remarkable for its beauty and devotion… beautifully performed and recorded… a deeply satisfying whole. Five stars.’ Classic CD

‘Powerfully expressive…performances marked by subtle dynamic shading, great sensitivity of phrasing and near-faultless ensemble…how could anyone call this music austere?’ International Record Review

‘The all-adult male choir is perfectly suited to this music of desolation… not quite the unemotional Palestrina you thought you knew’. Daily Telegraph




Palestrina: Music for Holy Saturday


Catalogue: CHAN0679

Recorded in: All Hallows Church, Gospel Oak, London, 18-20 April 2001

Palestrina: Lamentations for Holy Saturday I-III (Book III), Stabat mater, Benedictus for Holy Week, Sicut cervus

Chant: Guidetti, Rome, 1587

‘Superbly performed and vividly recorded… Palestrina’s polyphony here has a biting edge, beautifully achieved in this performance’. Penguin Guide

‘Outstanding…a wonderful recording’.Gramophone (Editor’s Choice April 2002, Critics’ Choice 2002, Early Music Award 2002 Shortlist)

‘Beautifully composed singing…Musica Contexta delivers the direct and intense music with a potent emotional charge’. ***** BBC Music Magazine

‘The finest recording to date of the famous Stabat Mater.International Record Review

‘A masterful performance.’ Early Music Review

‘These powerful performances bring out the music’s latent intensity’. Daily Telegraph

''The technical standard could hardly be better... these are exceptionally fine perfomances.''American Record Guide




Le Divin Arcadelt: Candlemas in Renaissance Rome


Catalogue: CHAN0779

Recorded in St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, 17-19 May 2010

Arcadelt: Missa Ave Regina caelorum, Pater noster, Hodie beata virgo Maria

De Silva: Inviolata integra et casta es Maria, Ave Regina caelorum

Palestrina: Senex puerum portabat, Diffusa est gratia

Chant: Graduale Romanum

'This very creative CD is to be thoroughly recommended.' Early Music

'... they sing each line dynamically and with direction: truly bringing this music to life.' Musica Antiqua


"Through the works of Arcadelt, de Silva, and Palestrina, the vocal ensemble Musica Contexta, with The English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble, takes us on a journey of musical Rome on a February day at the end of the sixteenth century. Imagine walking through the streets of the city at Candlemas, the Day of Purification - in the Catholic Church, this day celebrates the Purification of Mary and the official presentation of Christ at the Temple forty days after his birth - and at each church we come to we stop and listen to a piece of music. In one church we might find a single falsetto voice accompanied by sackbuts, in the next an unaccompanied choir, and elsewhere a full choir with wind instruments."



BYRD: The Great Service in the Chapel Royal


Catalogue: CHAN0789

Recorded in St John's Church, Upper Norwood, London, 2-4 May 2011

Tutti; The Great Service, Sing joyfully unto God our strength

Sackbuts & cornetts: Constitues eos, Nunc scio vere, Hodie Simon Petrus

Vocal: O Lord make thy servant Elizabeth, Psalms 114 & 47

Organ: Prelude in C, Verse in C

'It's a hugely inviting sound. The singing is tight and energetic, the delivery crisp and clear. [The] playing is characteristically nimble, yet has gravitas... Delicious. A first-class recording of a familiar masterpiece in a refreshed guise, underpinned by honest, open-minded scholarship, and realized with creative flair. It's a resounding success.' International Record Review