Top positive review
26 people found this helpful
Transported on a 410 bus from SE19 to 17th Century Italy
on 14 June 2012
Firstly I have to declare an interest. This was recorded in St John's, Upper Norwood near Crystal Place in London and not some Italian Cathedral but we are firmly of the High Church, Anglo-Catholic tradition and the bell at the start of the first track is screwed to the wall outside the vestry and rung at the beginning of every mass so absolutely authentic. We have a strong musical tradition and the building seems to impart a certain magic which my choir are lucky enough to experience week by week, but which is gradually being discovered by others making recordings. The recent Florilegium CD of Vivaldi works was recorded here and I Flagiolini's work similarly benefits from a resonance and clarity often lacking in larger cathedrals.
Robert Hollingworth rarely seems to take the easy options and whilst you will find the usual suspects in Gabrieli and Monteverdi, there is also a revelation in Ludovico Viadana. He will be familiar to many church choirs as being the composer of the Missa L'hora Passa but his works here are more than on a par with the aforementioned masters of polyphony. Speaking of Gabrieli, the Magnificat is a reconstruction of a work for seven choirs - 28 parts vocal and instrumental including bells and a cannon!
This is an excellent recording that reveals new dimensions with each hearing. The programme is well chosen and has a variety of musical textures (plainsong, chamber organ, instrumental and choral works) to transport you back in time. Hollingworth avoids the temptation to simply create endless walls of vocal sound (initially impressive but tiring after a while) by creating each choir as a mixture of vocalists and instruments and also by varying the composition of the instrumental groups. It's a great achievement and the microsite -[...] is well worth a visit for more information.
If you bought the previous Striggio CD, you'll have an idea of what to expect but this is far superior in my view. If you like early music and period instruments, you'll definitely need this in your collection.