The monks of Pluscarden present a new album: Tempus per annum.
The album explores music used in ‘Ordinary Time’ - that is, all the weeks that fall outside the Seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter, and apart from the many Feasts of the Church's Year. The repertoire of Gregorian Chant offers a great wealth of music for Ordinary Time, and the Chants recorded on this album were selected to illustrate some of this rich variety. The album is in four main sections - firstly joyous and dynamic, then meditative and slow, then bold and confident, and finally adoring and glorifying, with a brief closing section dedicated to Mary the mother of Jesus.
The album was programmed, performed and recorded by the monks of Pluscarden Abbey, and produced by Ffin Records.
Accompanying the album is a 32-page booklet of detailed notes written by the monks of Pluscarden about the interpretation, context and history of each track, together with the complete Latin texts and English translations for all the music heard. The printed booklet is included with the CD, and available to download as a free PDF from the shop.
Pluscarden CD – “Tempus per annum”
The monks of Pluscarden offer to the public some 73 minutes of recording, consisting of 29 items, all of them drawn from chants sung during the Tempus per annum (or Ordinary time of the year). The result is a rich mine offering great variety as to the choice of items, whether considered from the angle of their liturgical context, their spiritual “ambiance”, their modality or musical style. Some are accompanied on the discreet but sensitive register of the monks’ Tickell organ, others are sung a cappella, enhanced by the rich acoustics of the medieval abbey church.
The singing is of a high quality, the pitch excellent, the interpretation based on a painstaking and informed examination of the most authentic sources. The schola, or group of expert singers, includes some rich and sonorous voices, especially in the first half of the CD, and sings with splendid unison as well as sensitivity to the expressive requirements of the individual pieces. The Latin diction is treated with care, resulting in an impressive clarity of enunciation.
Particularly worthy of note are the tropped Kyrie 2 with its elegant rhythm and neat diction, the Gradual Laetatus and Alleluia Confitemini, examples of fine singing, as well as the beautifully expressive In voluntate and Multitudo.
The second half of the CD has a freshness and lightness about it which those of us familiar with the Pluscarden community immediately recognize as the familiar mark of its choir.
The CD is accompanied by a plump set of notes, including a generous commentary on each piece. These explain, with a certain erudition, the historical background, the style and general context, as well as the musical and spiritual quality of the individual chants. The full Latin text is given along with a literal translation.
Finally the monks should be congratulated on the sound engineering, photography and general presentation which is entirely theirs.
May many come to discover, through this CD, new riches and depths in the Church’s perennial liturgy, which is a fathomless source of prayer for the faithful.
Sr. Bernadette Byrne of St. Cecilia's Abbey Ryde