It amuses me to read how first Mr Bruno in his review airily dismisses this recording and then his faithful acolyte readership rush to thank him and affirm the veracity of his comments without themselves actually having heard the disc in question.
So here's another - and, I suspect, less dogmatic and tendentious - opinion; one which is shared by those thousands of fans devoted to the extraordinarily beautiful and homogeneous sound produced by the Sixteen, who regularly flock to their live concerts and then buy their records, where they may hear the finest polyphonic choir performing today.
It strikes me that to accuse the Sixteen of sounding enervated and lethargic here, you would have to have the musical sensibilities of a bath mat and a complete misapprehension of both the purpose of this music and the venues in which is was and is properly performed. This is music of a vertical, serene, transcendent nature which aspires to elevate listeners heavenwards, to give them a proleptic foretaste of the peace which will succeed the sufferings so vividly depicted in de Victoria's agonising suspensions and discords. To allot one voice to each part is an aesthetic travesty and not historically justified, whatever the HIP converts maintain; this music needs the sweep and resonance of an angelic choir, not the game squawkings of one doughty soloist per line at a jaunty tempo. It needs the prolonged and generous cathedral acoustic whereby a body of voices float into the cupola and benefit from a reverberation of several seconds.
Having just watched an hour long celebration of de Victoria's music by the Sixteen on BBC4, I can confidently assert that there is nothing tired or turgid about Harry Christopher's direction of his exceptionally gifted choir, nor do the singers seem anything other than wholly rapt by the music they so movingly sing. God spare me (literally) from the pallid, woefully under-powered trilling of a so-called "authentic" performance and give me the glorious multiplicity of twenty voices blended with perfect intonation.
I couldn't wait to get this record and hear this music performed as it should be. The presence of women's voices is no bar when their timbre and colour is so close to that of trebles and the choir's attention to dynamics and shaping is masterly; every word is given its proper weight and drama.
Amazon reviewing should be about offering an honest, informed, unbiased response, free of chauvinism or prejudice. I find that I invariably disagree with Mr Bruno's tastes and therefore offer mine as a counter-balance; the Amazon reader may then do as he or she sees fit - but if you love the greatest composer of the Counter-Reformation, my advice is buy this CD.
I'm a great fan of the Sixteen and this disc has much that is transporting. Commitment to the text and the music is huge and the recording enhances the reputation both of Harry Christophers and his singers.