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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of a Series of Victoria CDs by Hill and the Westminsters, 14 Feb 2005
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J Scott Morrison (Middlebury VT, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Victoria: Ave maris stella; O quam gloriosum /Westminster Cathedral Choir · Hill (Audio CD)
Over the years, from the mid-1980s, beginning (I believe) with 'O Magnum Misterium' and 'Ascendens Christus in Altum,' David Hill and the Westminster Cathedral Choir have recorded a good number of Victoria's motets and masses. All of the performances I've heard, including this CD of 'O Quam Gloriosum' and 'Ave Maris Stella,' some of Victoria's most beloved music, are stunningly sung and recorded. The Westminster Choir's boy trebles give these performances an ethereal quality that raises these performances above the usual level. This is astonishingly beautiful music in remarkably effective performances by these forces. I would also heartily recommend the others in the series.
This is music and these are performances that people who don't ordinarily like classical music, or people who aren't particularly religious, can listen to and enjoy endlessly.
Highly recommended.
Scott Morrison
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music of the spheres, 27 Dec 2011
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Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Victoria: Ave maris stella; O quam gloriosum /Westminster Cathedral Choir · Hill (Audio CD)
It may be seen from previous reviews that these two masses contain music which moves more profoundly than almost any other of its type. It manages to combine a kind of propulsive momentum with a sense of timelessness. The slim, pure voices of the boys of the Westminster Choir bring to mind cherubim or putti in the Heavenly Host exalting the Almighty, tossing fragments of melody in canon to the lower voices who underpin their soaring paean.

The acoustic of the cathedral is ideal for creating a sense of space of grandeur. Intonation is superb and the human voices often takes on the characteristics of pealing bells, yet diction remains pellucid despite the resonant ambience. No polyphonic music ever expressed such unfettered yet dignified joy or reflected more confidently the rejuvenated certainties of the Counter-Reformation.

I have sung this music several times and always remark upon how the choir finds itself "in flow" during performance; no devotional music has ever been devised to sit more comfortably on the voice. How can just singing "judicare vivos et mortuos" in four parts in the Credo be so thrilling? De Victoria makes real drama out of the Creed instead of just going through the liturgical motions; we sense that he is very close to the realities of the parousia and subsequent eschaton. This is music which never strays far from teleological doctrine. Great, grand, glorious music - buy it.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Invitation, 7 Mar 2012
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This review is from: Victoria: Ave maris stella; O quam gloriosum /Westminster Cathedral Choir · Hill (Audio CD)
Nowadays, there are so many recreations of the famous 1948 Copleston / Russell debate on the existence of God - it's becoming a cottage industry. Yes, Christopher Hitchens is dust but upgunned replacements are surely on the way. Frankly, I am bored by both sides of the argument: is someone keeping score like a game of football?

Pascal was likeminded.

On November 23, 1654, the great French philosopher was overwhelmed by a numinous encounter with the One. He wrote up his experience - as best as he could - and sewed it into the liner of his coat, thus carrying it everywhere as a reminder. It wasn't until after his death that a servant uncovered this little note. This encounter has become known as "Pascal's Night of Fire."

So after rounding the Cape, we return to this Hyperion disc. It was luminously performed and recorded in November 1983. Both works here are masterpieces. But there is something more to the Agnus Dei of the Missa Ave Maris Stella that I have never been able to fathom.

As far as I can tell, it is an invitation.

It is phrased in the imperative. Does it entreat one to forego this outer garment of blood and bone? Perhaps. Is it an invitation to delve into eternity? I suspect so.

This much I know: if Pascal had heard it, he would have exclaimed "Fire".
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Victoria Choral Music, 15 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Victoria: Ave maris stella; O quam gloriosum /Westminster Cathedral Choir · Hill (Audio CD)
This is a superb disc. The voices are finely balanced and it is well recorded. The sound . quite naturally, is a long way from the silvery trebles of the English choral tradition and has a more powerful ,rounded continental sound, but without the "ragazzi" tone of some continental church choirs.
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