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.
on 10 December 2010
This is a beautiful CD performed with clarity and vocal excellence that one has come to expect from this extraordinary choir. They seem to have a feel and empathy with the Tudor Music of Byrd and Tallis giving performances that never fail to impress. This disc does not, in my view , match the outstanding nature of " Heavenly Harmonies" but it is still a first class offering. It is not a disc for those seeking Christmas music of the more traditional kind- rather it is an esoteric jewel that rewards those who venture outwith those constraints with music of the highest order. The recording engineers deserve especial praise here - they and this choir are to be congratulated on their work.
on 9 December 2010
Words start to become inadequate when listening to music as beautifully performed as this. Having seen them perform live a few times the recorded sound is a very faithful representation of their live concerts, albeit in a slightly more resonant acoustic than some concert spaces. This is a choir that is very much more than sum of its individual parts. The focus is on a chamber music style of blending tone of voice, dynamics and enunciation, while retaining an expressive, almost romantic approach to the music, based on subtle interplay of lines and, for me their greatest strength, the ability to pace long stretches of music, to create a narrative arc that provides impetus to all their performance. All of the music of this disc is terrific, but the Tallis Mass is a wonderful discovery showcasing a composer at the height of his powers, but looking forward - this is not "ancient" music but fresh, innovative and compelling. Wonderful stuff, highly recommended, as indeed are all of their previous recordings - in particular their disc of Sheppard - a revelation.
A beautiful CD, was given 5 stars for performance and 5 stars for the recording by the BBC music magazine and a top rating of 10/10 from Classics today. Perfect for Christmas as an antidote to more banal fare but great listening at any time of year. Gorgeous, sonorous voices, redolent of the past. A wonderful way to drift off to sleep instead of the usual 'new age' offerings.
A sumptuous feast of English Tudor music performed by an ensemble of acclaimed young British singers. Highly recommended.