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4.8 out of 5 stars
Stile Antico - The Phoenix Rising
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 31 July 2013
Stile Antico was formed in Oxford in 2001 by a group consisting largely of students at the University. The name (meaning literally 'in the old style') reflected their interest in repertoire of the 16th and 17th centuries, and they elected early on to work without a conductor, instead allowing each member of the ensemble equal input into the overall interpretation of a work.

Their extraordinarily balanced yet profound realisations of Renaissance polyphony saw them take the audience prize at the York Early Music Festival in 2005. It also brought them to the attention of the music industry and they were quickly signed to the American arm of Harmonia Mundi. The collaboration has been a fruitful one, and this is their eighth album together.

For The Phoenix Rising, Stile celebrate the centenary of the Carnegie UK Trust, whose publication of Tudor Church Music in the 1920s has been vastly influential on the development of the English choral tradition, of which Stile are now exemplars. This series of ten volumes of church music brought to a wider audience a collection of pieces which had hitherto been hidden away in libraries or only available in difficult to read partbooks. The selection on the album ranges from John Taverner (O splendor gloriae) through to Gibbons' O clap your hands together, taking in other luminaries of English Renaissance sacred music such as Byrd, Tallis and White along the way.

The recording, made at St Jude-on-the-Hill, is intimate, warm and not overly-reverberant; this suits the group's style well, allowing the nuances of inflection to be captured within the transparent textures. Negotiating a path between a sort of diaphanous sterility and an overly expressive and unbecoming lushness, Stile have found a sound which allows for the heartfelt expression of these extraordinary pieces, whilst maintaining a crystal-clear tonal integrity.

These are regal and affecting interpretations of works which came into existence in often troubled and turbulent times, the unfaltering devotion which they communicate all the more powerful for being understated. A worthy example of the English choral tradition indeed.
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#1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon 10 December 2013
This is a very beautiful disc from Stile Antico. They are developing a very fine discography and this is an impressive addition.

The backbone of the music here is Byrd's wonderful Mass for Five Voices, interspersed with motets and anthems by Tallis, Gibbons, Morley, White and Taverner. It is repertoire in which Stile Antico excels and they have produced another cracker here. Their technique is excellent, with impeccable tuning and a lovely balance and blend. They engage with the music and shape it beautifully, and the introduction of some more lively anthems like Gibbons' O Clap Your Hands Together make a varied and interesting programme. Stile Antico's sound is warm and resonant and the individual lines are not as distinct as with some ensembles - but they blend so beautifully and make such a lovely overall sound that this doesn't matter to me at all.

The recorded sound is excellent and the disc is well presented with good notes.
I have admired Stile Antico's recordings (and a wonderful Prom concert they gave a couple of years ago) since I heard their very first disc, Music For Compline Stile Antico - Music for Compline, back in 2007. They are now a world-class ensemble and this is well up to their usual excellent standard and I warmly recommend this disc.
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VINE VOICEon 18 September 2013
Stile Antico are very much flavour of the month at the moment, releasing plenty of discs that are generally very well received. Their approach of singing without a conductor, their blended sound, and their choice of repertoire, most of which is from pretty well-ploughed furrows, lend them a broad appeal.

This, their most recent CD (in 2013), returns not to a well-ploughed furrow, but to a broad highway in English choral music: Byrd's Mass for 5 voices, Tallis' 'Salvator Mundi' and 'In ieiunio et fletu', along with some Gibbons, Morley, White and Taverner. Only two tracks struck me as being outside of the standard repertoire of cathedral and college choirs - White's 'Portio Mea' and Taverner's 'O splendor gloriae.' I think it's also true to say that, with the exception of the Taverner, the Tallis Scholars have recorded everything on this disc before. (This isn't to say that they have done a better or worse job, but there seems to be, with the exception of their interesting 'Tune thy musicke to thy hart' disc, a close convergence between Stile's repertoire, and that of their early music forbears.')

In the end, I was disappointed by this disc. The sound is very perfect, immaculate, even, and I found myself struggling to differentiate between the pieces I was listening to, despite the range of styles and sentiments on offer. For background listening, this CD is ideal, but Stile seem to have sacrificed communicating emotion and meaning to the imperative of a perfectly blended ensemble sound. Even the recording itself seems strangely glossy, the voices oddly rounded-off in the space. In the end, I'd look for individual recordings of the works elsewhere.
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on 8 June 2015
Bought as a birthday present for my husband having seen it linked with Hildegard. With both like it - but not as much as Hildegard!
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on 11 October 2015
Beautiful music, beautifully sung!
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on 31 December 2014
Wonderful music. Such a pleasure to hear.
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on 9 January 2014
This album was a complete surprise. I'd never heard of them, was merely browsing - as one does - and fell upon the record / artists. Its a gem. I really need say no more.
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on 13 September 2013
And worth it. Beautiful but varied English choral music expertly rendered. A pleasure and even theriputic for stress. Buy it.
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on 11 January 2014
I am new to Stile Antico but the sound they generate with their voices is truly awe inspiring. Wonderful resonance from their voices as if you are sitting in a cathedral with them. Again, just sit back, close your eyes and enjoy.
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on 17 February 2014
Stile Antico is really as lovely as i thought it would be. A renewable pleasure after a day at work
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