This is the fifth CD from Stile Antico, and it is well up to the very high standard set by the previous four. For this disc they have chosen music for Christmas and Advent but this is far more than just a "Christmas disc." The music is among the most beautiful written by each of the composers here and is placed in a programme which will repay repeated hearing for many years and at any season. The juxtaposition of Byrd's lovely, concise and deceptively simple sounding Mass propers with Tallis's expansive and resonant mass Puer natus est works particularly well, but every piece on this disc is a true gem.
English Tudor polyphony is the repertoire in which I think Stile Antico really excel, and their singing here of Tallis, Byrd, Taverner, Sheppard and White is really outstanding. They are technically brilliant, with impeccable intonation, a lovely fluency of line and a wonderful balance and blend of voices. The plainchant, too, is excellently sung. They record in a full, resonant acoustic, so that sometimes the clarity of the text and of individual lines is sacrificed to the overall sound - but it is such an exquisite sound that this is a sacrifice well worth making. These works have been recorded by some of the world's very greatest ensembles like The Tallis Scholars and The Cardinall's Musick and, in their individual way, I think Stile Antico hold their own very well alongside those classic recordings.
This is a disc of limpid beauty, with excellent recorded sound, good notes and very attractive presentation. Very warmly recommended.