Best New Classical Albums of 2014

It was another year full of great classical music. Here are my favorites from 2014, new releases only, no reissues.

1. Magnificat/Philip Cave The Tudors at Prayer (Linn) This superbly programmed and performed album contains eight Latin sacred choral works (specifically motets, mostly votive antiphons and psalm motets) by John Taverner (c.1490-1545), Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585), William Mundy (c.1529-1591), Robert White (c.1538-1574), and William Byrd (c.1540-1621). Active during the period of greatest religious upheaval in English history, they kept writing richly layered polyphony despite changing fashions (though the later composers listed would also provide chordal English-language anthems as needed). The mightiest work here, Mundy's Vox Patris caelestis, leads off the program. The text, speaking as it does of "flowering vines" and their "heavenly ambrosial scent," practically begs for an elaborate polyphonic setting, and Mundy provided one that is among the most exquisite works of the 16th century.
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