I listened to this music on the first night of their 2012 Pilgrimage tour in the perfect setting of Winchester Cathedral and buying the CD then became an imperative. This is beautiful, peaceful music performed by a superb choir. I have only fairly recently started to listen to Renaissance choral music and appreciate that there will be different interpretations of this music, but, for me, this is as good as I would ever wish to hear. If you want something to soothe away the horrors of the 21st Century, buy and listen to this CD: quite divine.
I'll begin with a confession which would probably have me summarily expelled from groups of early music enthusiasts and shunned for evermore: <whispers> I'm not really a great fan of The Sixteen relatively speaking, when you listen to them alongside a long list of other ensembles - The Clerks, Tallis Scholars, Orlando Consort, Hilliard Ensemble, Gothic Voices, Binchois Consort, Brabant Ensemble, Cardinall's Musick and so on.
Under Lionel Blair lookalike Harry Christophers they tend to take later Renaissance music - Palestrina, Victoria, Tallis, Byrd and so on - which is already brimming with long drawn out seemingly endless high notes and turn it into such soprano heavy renditions which all but drown out half the singers under the sheer weight of the loftier vocals. Still, it must be what the paying punters and Classic FM listeners like for the most part, and Mr C is certainly the doyen of early music for the BBC.
The missus, having seen HC & T16 on the aforementioned televisual station demanded that I should obtain tickets to see them on hearing that they were coming to Exeter this May as part of their "The Earth Resounds" tour. I kind of umm'ed and aah'd a little in my mind about it - no other early music groups ever come down here, but on the other hand...
So what's this in their announced programme? Lassus fits in with their usual later repertoire, but it was a shock and, I must say, pleasant surprise to see Brumel and Josquin (my favourite Renaissance composer) on there. Perhaps a bit ground breaking for T16, this. "Et ecce terraemotus factus est magnus" - behold, the earth has moved indeed.
And here in advance of the tour comes the recording of the concert programme. And you know what? It's actually rather good indeed, and they prove that they really can take on these earlier composers and actually give them something like the right sort of vocal balance they truly deserve. I'm now genuinely looking forward to the live gig. Question - why can't they perform this kind of repertoire more often? So Harry, how about some more Josquin? Perhaps even some Ockeghem or Obrecht?
Programme: Lassus: Aurora lucis rutilat Josquin: Praeter rerum serium Lassus: Timor et tremor Josquin: Huc me sydereo Brumel: Missa Et ecce terrae motus - Gloria Lassus: Magnificat Secondi Toni (super Praeter rerum serium) Brumel: Missa Et ecce terrae motus - Sanctus Josquin: O virgo prudentissima Lassus: Magnificat Octavi Toni (super Aurora lucis rutilat)