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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


ALLEGRI MISERERE and others
1. Grigorio ALLEGRI (1582 – 1652) – Miserere Mei
2. Thomas MORLEY (1557 – 1603) – Let my complaint
3. Thomas TALLIS (c.1505 – 1585) – If you love me
4. William BYRD (1543 – 1585) – Delight is dead
5. TALLIS – O sacrum convivium
6. BYRD – How vain the toils that mortal men do take
7. BYRD – O Lord, how long wilt thou forget?
8. Heinrich SCHÜTZ (1585 – 1672) – Was mein Gott will
9. SCHÜTZ – Auf dem Gebirge
10. Alessandro GRANDI (c. 1577 – 1630) – O quam tu pulcra es
11. G.P. da PALESTRINA (1525 – 1594) – Super flumina Babylonis
12. Jacques ARCADELT ( c.1505 – 68) – Il bianco e dolce cigno
13. Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567 – 1624) – Salve, O regina
14. PALESTRINA – Stabat Mater
Pro Cantione Antiqua/Mark Brown (nos. 1,2,3,5,11,14)
Paul Esswood, James Bowman (countertenors), James Griffett (tenor), Bradford tracey (organ) English Consort of Viols (nos. 4,6 –10, 12-13)
REGIS RRC 1065 [69:32]

 

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The music on this disc comes from two sources: firstly performances of unaccompanied choral music by the group Pro Cantione Antiqua; and secondly solo works sung by countertenors Paul Esswood and James Bowman and tenor James Griffett all accompanied by the English Consort of Viols. Unfortunately, there is no information in the notes or on the cover (that I could find) to tell me where and when the recordings were made, which is frustrating. I managed to track down the Allegri Miserere to an I.M.P. disc issued in 1985, but that doesn’t give any recording data either.

What is clear is that these performances are quite old. The tracks with the ECV do show their age, though since they contain previously unpublished work by the three singers concerned, they are of special interest. The comparison of the singing styles of Esswood and the young Bowman is particularly revealing. Esswood’s sound is much more ‘feminine’, with a pronounced vibrato, while Bowman’s is far closer to current tastes – straighter and unmistakably ‘masculine’. This can be heard most clearly in Byrd’s wonderful Delight is Dead.

 

The Pro Cantione Antiqua tracks contain examples of an approach to polyphonic music which is now unfashionable. Full-voiced, expressive and pliant, the individual colours of the singers’ voices come over superbly. Indeed, of its kind this singing is very hard to better, though I fear I miss the sound of a boy treble in the Allegri. However, the version of the Palestrina Stabat Mater is an outstanding one, beautifully paced and shaped, with immaculately projected words.

Fine performances of great music recaptured here then; thank-you Regis, but could we have a little more information please!

Gwyn Parry-Jones


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