Customer Reviews


4 Reviews
5 star:
 (2)
4 star:    (0)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful new disc from a superb choir
This is a worthwhile new release in a crowded marketplace. The singing and the acoustics on the recording are just what you could hope for from repertoire of this sort. My only slight quibble is with some of the speeds that one or two of the pieces are taken at.
However, this recording of the Josquin 'Ave Maria' has persuaded me that I like the piece, after...
Published on 16 Jun. 2009 by Carl James

versus
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite music and performance, let down by the medium
This is a very beautiful collection of choral works (occasionally with organ) devoted to the Virgin Mary. One does not have to be conventionally religious to appreciate this deeply felt and often transcendent music.

Paul McCreesh expertly and creatively juxtaposes pieces from the Renaissance (Josquin, Mouton, Palestrina), through Grieg, Stravinsky, Bax and...
Published on 5 Mar. 2009 by P. D. Allen


Most Helpful First | Newest First

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful new disc from a superb choir, 16 Jun. 2009
By 
This review is from: A Spotless Rose (Audio CD)
This is a worthwhile new release in a crowded marketplace. The singing and the acoustics on the recording are just what you could hope for from repertoire of this sort. My only slight quibble is with some of the speeds that one or two of the pieces are taken at.
However, this recording of the Josquin 'Ave Maria' has persuaded me that I like the piece, after previously being somewhat indifferent towards it! The Mouton & Palestrina are excellent renditions. Well done - more of the same please, Gabrieli Consort.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime, 10 Jun. 2009
By 
Mrs. Jane Hayes "chorister" (Wiltshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Spotless Rose (Audio CD)
A Spotless Rose
It's hard to imagine a more beautiful collection of choral items, from various times and composers. The blend of ancient and modern is excellent and the standard of performance impeccable. I bought this as a result of a radio review and it fulfilled all my highest expectations. Heartiest congratulations and thanks to Paul McCreesh and his singers for a sublime experience.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite music and performance, let down by the medium, 5 Mar. 2009
By 
P. D. Allen (Plenty, Victoria Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Spotless Rose (Audio CD)
This is a very beautiful collection of choral works (occasionally with organ) devoted to the Virgin Mary. One does not have to be conventionally religious to appreciate this deeply felt and often transcendent music.

Paul McCreesh expertly and creatively juxtaposes pieces from the Renaissance (Josquin, Mouton, Palestrina), through Grieg, Stravinsky, Bax and Howells, to contemporary works (Tavener, Swayne, Adès, MacMillan, Górecki). Oddly, the booklet omits dates of composition, which is a pity.

The performances are likewise superb. From the quietest contemplative sections to enormous climaxes that would have filled the Lady Chapel, Ely Cathedral, where the recording was made in 2007, the choir sings with conviction and precision. FIVE STARS for the musical performance, which is highly recommended.

SIMILAR RECORDINGS TO CONSIDER:

Spotless Rose: Phoenix Chorale, Charles Bruffy, Chandos CHSA 5066 (2008).
This also contains hymns to the Virgin Mary, but only contemporary music. The only overlap is the 3:38 eponymous 'Spotless Rose' by Herbert Howells.

Scattered Rhymes: Orlando Consort, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Paul Hillier, Harmonia Mundi HMU 807469 (2008).
Another combination of old and new choral works to spark off each other. Gavin Bryars and Tarik O'Regan mix it with Machaut (incl. the complete Messe de Nostre Dame) and Dufay.

ON THE OTHER HAND:

The CD recording per se is excellent, with good integration and balance yet fine detail, and a large dose of cathedral ambiance.

However, as with many CDs unsuited to the music recorded and its acoustic, the sound is slightly bright and the depth flat, with all that cathedral reverb hovering in the front of the room over the stereo speakers. The sound is non-immersive, and somewhat unreal. The reduction of my rating by TWO STARS is due to this, as the technology to do better is readily available.

Consider. I have a 6.0 speaker audio system, which has evolved over 40 years from LP days to the present, and is optimized for music. Diverting some sound to the surround speakers made a huge difference to the sense of involvement in sound and music.

At quiet levels, the singing sounds warm and clear, but somewhat distant, commensurate with the size of the venue. At louder levels the choir gains depth while retaining warmth, and starts to project forward more as though in a genuine large space. There is tangible presence around the listener, and at climaxes one feels as though one can virtually 'see' the high ceiling above. Not a recommended procedure, but this experiment in 'faux surround sound' does suggest how much better the sound of this recording could have been.

It would have made a superb SACD.

Companies like DG, Sony, Decca, Philips and EMI are the major players in the recording business. As such, they are able to organize highly desirable premium musical recording events. These are then presented as full price recordings. Why are they CDs rather than the current premium audio format, SACD?

If a two star deficit appears extreme, let me explain why I think it is just. I have been collecting SACDs for eight years, CDs for twenty seven years, and LPs for 17 years before that. SACDs are currently available from companies such as BIS, Harmonia Mundi, Pentatone, Chandos, Channel Classics, Linn, Ondine, RCA, Hänsler Classic, Melba, Avanti, 2L, CCn'C, LSO Live, RCO Live, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and many others. Plenty of choice then.

The advantages of SACD in sound reproduction have only become more evident with time. When I select a new recording to purchase, I hope for a state-of-the-art revelatory experience. Limiting examples to recent DG releases, it was very hard to resist the lure of this present recording, or McCreesh's thrilling Haydn Creation, or Boulez' definitive Mahler Symphony No 8.

I would not be complaining if these were old mono or stereo BBC radio releases, but they are not. The performances are as hoped for, but I feel sick to the stomach when I hear the limitations of these recordings compared to well-recorded SACDs.

HISTORICAL ASIDE:

DG, Sony, Decca, Philips and Naxos, amongst others, have actually REVERTED to CD, a format designed for 1983 release and necessarily limited by the technical capabilities of that time to a minimally acceptable standard for music reproduction by digital carrier, whose other advantages were many and palpable, and remain so today, whatever the format.

But times change, and SACD had fully developed as a viable replacement for the CD by ~2001.

The present recording is severely compromised by being issued as a CD rather than an SACD. As little as four years ago, this recording WOULD have been an SACD.

For example McCreesh's own performance of Missa Salisburgensis by Biber, DG 4716322 (admittedly a reissue of a 1998 release), or Rainer Kussmaul and Thomas Quasthoff's Bach Cantatas, DG 4745052GSA ("The cream of the SACD crop", Gramophone Awards issue 2005, p.73 & 'Editor's choice' review, January 2005, p.83 <[...]>).

From the blurb on the cover of the former disc: "Once again Deutsche Grammophon is at the forefront of new audio developments in its continual quest to convey the full brilliance and richness of its recordings into your own home. What can you expect to hear? Superb audio reproduction of separate stereo recordings as well as breathtakingly lifelike surround sound. What do we mean by 'superb audio reproduction'? All our recordings will take advantage of SACD technology offering sound of greater warmth, depth and clarity...".

That says it all really.

REALITY CHECK: 22 March 2009

Last night, I had the rare privilege of hearing the Thomanerchor Leipzig perform Bach's St John Passion at the new Melbourne Recital Centre. Bach wrote this work for the first Easter of his 27 year appointment as Cantor of Leipzig. If I ever hear such choral singing again, I shall consider myself a fortunate man.

Despite being very emotionally involved in the performance, I thought of the present review on occasion, and asked myself whether I'm being oversensitive in this matter. Does real, live choral music sound like DG's CD recording, or more like the 'pseudo-SACD/BD' sound I artificially created, and well-recorded choral music I already have on genuine multichannel SACDs or BDs?

There is no doubt - it's the latter.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Vocal music -, 4 May 2009
By 
P. B. Knudsen "Arendalitt" (Arendal, Norway) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Spotless Rose (Audio CD)
My opinion is: fine music, but the recording level seems to be low. I must turn up the lewel very much to be satisfied
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

A Spotless Rose
A Spotless Rose by Gabrieli Consort (Audio CD - 2009)
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews