This is the best of the Stile Antico CD's I've listened to so far. Most of the pieces are fairly well known, but there's no doubt that Stile Antico gives their own twist to their performance. Tempi are on the whole relatively moderate and the choir concentrates on the subtle beauty of the polyphonic movement. They never lose the line of the music and tuning is accurate. The choir has on occasion sounded top heavy, but they avoids that on this CD. There are some absolute highlights and for me the outstanding one is their reading of the Tallis Miserere. The amazing structure of this piece presents singers with the challenge of how to present a cohesive whole and not get lost in the moving parts. Stile Antico succeeds in this better than any choir I have heard and they capture the ethereal mystery of the piece like no other. The Sheppard Libera Nos is sung at a lower pitch than I am used to and it is less gripping as a result, though they do thankfully perform the whole piece. There are two settings of the motet Christe Qui Lux Es, the famous one by Byrd and the other by Sheppard. Both capture the strange tension that the plain chant invites and they work well. The Compline liturgy is poetic and restful. Composers tended to respect that and it's good to se that Stile Antico do that too.
This is a 'must have' CD for any who love early choral singing. From start to finish it's sublime... as is the quality of the sound captured by Harmonia Mundi. There's a magical moment early in the the first track as the (2?) basses enter. The sound is so rich it's hard to attribute it to the human voice at first. I've had the pleasure of hearing the group in the flesh too and they don't disappoint. Buy it. Add a glass of red wine and a roaring fire; turn up the volume and enjoy!!
Stile Antico are a relatively new Choral Ensemble, originating, as many do, from out of the Oxbridge choral world. The main distinguishing feature of this group which sets them apart from the numerous other `early music' groups is their lack of conductor. I'm not just talking about in performance, there's no conductor/director present at any stage of rehearsals or concerts! By removing the focusing point of a single artistic influence, the group are able to use all their individual experience and work as a unit, bringing the chamber music ideal of music controlled by all the performers into the choral field.
Judging by the results that these performances display, this is a fresh and exciting move -It is by no means easy to achieve this standard of music making throughout an entire disc. It exhibits all of the groups talents, the opening track (Libera nos I, Sheppard) setting the disc up with its brilliant contrasts of ethereal and radiant singing.
Aside from the music, it's encouraging to see that members of the group work hard behind the scenes, creating performing editions, putting together the programmes and writing the (excellent) sleeve notes. Just a quick look at their website (I'm not allowed to mention it here, but it's easily findable on the net!) reveals the full gamut of the abilities that these talented young singers possess.
This is a truly extraordinary disc, full of singing of the highest order. Words don't really do justice to the expressive and colourful delights contained within. Highly recommended.
Having purchased a Sixteen CD Amazon sent me advertisements for Stile Antico CDs. I had heard of Stile Antico but never actually heard them. I looked at the reviews here and elsewhere for this CD and they were so universally enthusiastic that I had to have it for myself, though I thought that it could not really live up to expectations. I was wrong. The CD is as good as everybody says it is. Nothing I could write could match or add to the excellent reviews here, particularly that of Andrew Arthur. It is best appreciated when one is alone in the house with no lights or noises from outside, with a log fire and perhaps a flickering candle, plus a decanter of port at one's side. I intend to go and watch Stile Abntico live and regret having taken so long to become acquainted with their music.
One is somewhat spoilt for choice these days when it comes to recordings of specialist 'early music' vocal ensembles. In Britain alone, 'brand' names such as 'The Sixteen' and 'The Tallis Scholars', however different their respective approach, have become equally synonymous with excellence in ensemble, intonation, balance and blend. On this basis alone, one might be forgiven for mistaking this CD for another release from one of these fine, long-established choirs. However, this debut recording from 'Stile Antico' has something rather distinctive and individual to offer the listener. Working as a vocal consort without conductor, these are performances born out of an internal commitment and universal understanding within the group, together with an obvious love for this repertoire which they perform so admirably. It is deeply refreshing, in a professional environment where 'time is money', to hear an ensemble who have so noticeably spent a great deal of time 'living' with the music, no doubt both as individuals and collectively as a group. This crucial element of music-making, so often over-looked, is perhaps above all what makes this recording stand out. In fairness, the result is not necessarily superior to that of a conducted ensemble, where a different style of direction in the performances can be attained. But whatever one's preferences - 'Stile Antico' have certainly achieved a winning combination - communicative performances which are simultaneously meditative and emotionally uplifting.
Impeccable ensemble is evident throughout the disc, and this is especially impressive when accomplished within various well-judged slow tempi. Highlights in this regard include a wonderfully ethereal and sonorous performance of Tallis' rarely heard seven-part 'Miserere nostri', and Sheppard's intoxicating 'Libera nos I & II' whose marvellous longing dissonances are given just the right amount of time to register. Byrd's 'Miserere mihi' also receives a fine performance, and the same composer's exquisite homophonic setting of 'Christe lux es et dies' serves to demonstrate these singers' aptitude for naturally shaped phrasing and beautifully paced cadences.
The programming is cohesive throughout, combining familiar, celebrated settings with some rare gems, notably Hugh Aston's giant antiphon 'Gaude, virgo mater Christi', of which this is the first recording made available on CD.
Congratulations are also due to Harmonia Mundi for their superb recording quality, which captures splendidly not only the clarity of the voices, but also the magnificent acoustics of All Hallow's, Gospel Oak. Beautiful packaging together with intelligent, informative programme notes completes this excellent debut release.
I came across this CD by accident a few years ago, when I was new to the music of Compline. When I first played it, I just stopped in my tracks with my jaw dropping - this group has the purest sound and blend I have ever heard. Even in works you know, you suddenly find wonderful elements you'd never noticed before. If you remember the expression popular a while back "the tingle factor", well this CD has them in abundance. It calms, elates, amazes every time: I play this CD more than any other in my collection. I had the pleasure of hearing Stile Antico in concert for the first time in September 2011 and can confirm their recordings are a true reflection of their sublime skill. Buy it!
I always enjoyed listening to the soothing sounds of Compline that used to be on the radio in the evening. If you enjoyed those broadcasts too then you will most likely enjoy this excellent cd. Beautiful voices and a wonderful, relaxing experience.
Bought this for my husband and although I haven't yet listened to it, he highly recommends it. Beautiful music and beautiful singing. You don't have to understand Compline to listen to it but just enjoy it!!