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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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This CD from New College is worth buying for the Allegri's Miserere alone - I have six or seven different recordings of this piece including the famous King's version and New College's version is undoubtedly the best. The entire programme is well chosen, encompassing music from eight different European countries and covering a time span of almost five hundred years. Each piece flows easily into the next and a sense of continuity is felt despite the time leaps between pieces. The sound is arresting - Edward Higginbottom cultivates a unique sound in his trebles, chesty and strong in the lower registers and almost painfully sweet and pure in the higher, at all times emotionally charged, the expression heightened by the earthy vibrato. The famous "fruity" alto tone of New College is as much in evidence as ever here. Perhaps the commercial success of this CD is due to Higginbottom's ability to create a new interpretation of even the best known pieces, and to his incredible sensitivity to dynamics and expression. A vital addition to any classical music collection.
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on 10 July 2014
I live in a very noisy area close to a town centre - traffic noise, building noise, late-night 'revellers' etc - I have quite varied musical tastes, and while I often find it useful to have some music playing, I sometimes want something really relaxing and simply as background music.

I stumbled upon this music by pure chance - I am not a church-goer, nor did I think I was particularly drawn to choral music - but, the track "Miserere mei, Deus" by Allegri on a different, classical compilation CD that I picked up in Oxfam one day, totally and utterly blew me away - and I was keen to hear more...

I searched on Amazon, and thanks to other reviewers on here I chose this CD, Agnus Dei, and it is now very much my favourite, and has been for several months now.

The music is so uplifting yet calming, and beautifully produced. As well as the incredible "Miserere mei, Deus" (the track lasts just short of 15 minutes) my other favourites are Barber's "Agnus Dei" (nearly 8 minutes) and Mozart's stunning "Ave Verum Corpus" (only just over 3 minutes, but very special).

The selection is quite varied but thoughtfully arranged - so that each track seems to follow on well from the previous one - and I find it mostly very relaxing. (For me only one track, the Mendelssohn one with a soprano solo, is not quite to my taste and has to be fast-forwarded - others will love it however, and it is supposed to be a classic!) The works span several centuries, and everyone will have their own favourites - and whether you are, like myself, new to choral music, or have been enjoying it for many years, I think you will be delighted with the quality and variety, and the overall uplifting experience of listening to Agnus Dei. The CD would also make a great gift.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 December 2015
I have really enjoyed this purchase of the Agnus Dei, Volume 1 by the Choir of New College, Oxford under
the direction of Dr. Edward Higginbottom organist and choirmaster from 1976-2014, during which time he
worked on over 70 recordings with the choir.
I find the whole of this album appeals to my taste, but my favourite pieces are the Samuel Barber, Agnus
Dei, an adaptation of his famous Adagio for Strings originally written in 1936. There is true passion in the
a capella singing that lifts the spirit. Equally inspiring is the Cantique de Jean Racine by Gabriel Faure.
The choral interpretation of Nimrod by Elgar is truly beautiful, and the Miserere mei, Deus by Gregorio
Allegri is sublime.

Twelve tracks in all on this CD which comes with the lyrics included in the information booklet.
Published on the Erato label.
A worthy addition to all choral music collections.
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on 21 April 2010
A fine compilation of religious music from Barber to Allegri.I think the collection is crowned by Allegri's Miserere mei, Deus, secret for hundreds of years on the pain of excommunication.It was sung once a year on Ash Wednesday beneath the glories of the Sistene Chapel,where a 12 year old Mozart heard it and copied it down note for note, afterwards.The Pope Urban VIII summoned him to The vatican only to praise his musical genius.
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on 3 January 2007
The singing in the Barber Adagio is exquisite. The phrasing is elegant, the pace is right, and the sopranos nail some stratospheric notes near the end that send chills down my back.

I first heard the Adagio decades ago on a 78 RPM disc with the Philadelphia orchestra conducted by Ormandy, and I have heard many versions since. But the Adagio acquires an entirely new dimension of expression and of challenge to musicianship when sung unaccompanied by a choir.

I was born and live in the USA, as Barber did, but I tip my hat to the British for the finest and most moving version of this piece I have ever heard.
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on 28 September 2010
As a life long devotee of Elgar's music . The words of the litergical Agnus Dei fit seamlessly into the glorious music. Edward Higginbottom( In my opinion the best Choral conductor around at the moment) produces a beautiful sound from the excellent New College Oxford Choir.
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on 18 June 2013
I bought this for the Barber Agnus Dei. Wonderful singing. I don't normally care overmuch for compilations, preferring entire choral works, but this one is very carefully balanced; there is no jarring chopping and changing of style/ volume/ mood that can ruin many another compilation. The whole thing is an extremely relaxing listen, without being over-the-top and soapy. Highly recommended.
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on 12 September 2016
I bought this CD for my 91 year old aunt after we heard part of Agnus Dei on a TV advert. I did a search on the internet to find the music, after she said "I wonder what that beautiful music is", so I ordered it for her. She is over the moon in having the whole recording, she plays it on repeat as she is so enamoured with it, she said it's one of the most beautiful pieces of music she's ever heard. The quality of the whole CD is perfect as well, I don't recognise all the pieces of music but they are all worth listening to. My aunt said the packaging of the product was excellent, although it took her a while to get into it.
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on 25 July 2016
They do a nice job of presenting the pieces. However, the boy sopranos stuck out to me (except in the Miserere, where they did an astounding job). Using boy sopranos is hard because unless their tone is perfect, it tends to skew the sound (this was especially apparent in more forte setions of various pieces). Thus (and this may just be my ear), the blend between the sopranos and the rest of the choir was off, which is why I, personally, am not giving a higher review. Overall, the selection of pieces was great, and each was performed well. I've just heard more sublimely and tonally blended versions.
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on 15 January 2013
This music is sublime. If you like relaxing choral and classical music just buy it, no ifs or buts. An exceptional recording of the choir of the New college, Oxford and there are some classic pieces on board arranged for voice's that are a revelation when performed in this manner. The pieces by BARBER and ELGAR being two such works. Top marks to Edward Higginbottom for his arrangements and the choir for their beautiful rendition of these famous pieces.
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