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Soprano v treble, 1960s v 2003
on 24 October 2009
As turn-of-the-century recordings go, this performance really isn't bad - in places it's positively good. For my tastes though, the Allegri in particular falls short. The more complex, and what seems like close-miked acoustic has less sense of space than the famous 1963 recording on Decca and that, plus the use of soprano rather than treble, follows a modern trend that has everything to do with practicality and little to do with the music as intended. The treble in the 1963 Decca is so ethereal it really does seem to disconnect from earth; I don't feel I can say that about any of the recordings I have heard that use soprano voice in its place. Yes, a well-trained soprano can project, has weight, can take the pounding of recording and re-recording and of a demanding touring schedule; but the music was written as a dramatic piece to be performed in a particular place in a particular way. I feel the '63 recording comes close to that in acoustic and the recording itself was created at the peak of what turned out to be the fabulous 50s and 60s Decca legacy. Sadly, young men reach puberty ever sooner in their young lives and the requirements of modern music directors, not to mention recording studios, is such that I fear their presence will be ever rarer.
That said, The Sixteen are highly proficient and there are some nice pieces on this disc. If, however, you don't have one and are looking for a recording of the Allegri, go back to the Decca.