> Sacred Brass [KS]: Classical CD Reviews- Aug 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Giovanni Pierluigi da PALESTRINA (c.1525-1594) Ascendo ad Patrem
Gregorio ALLEGRI (1582-1652) Miserere
Carlo GESUALDO (c1560-1613) Io parto e non piu dissi, Io pur respiro, Resta di darmi noia, Moro, lasso; Palestrina Exultate Deo, Missa Ascendo ad Patrem.
The Canadian Brass (Jens Lindemann and Ronald Romm, trumpets, Christopher Cooper, horn, Eugene Watts, trombone, Charles Daellenbach, contrabass trombone.
Vocal soloists: Ariel Harwood Jones, soprano, Mary Beth Daellenbach, mezzo-soprano, Laura Pudwell, alto, David Arnot, tenor, John Pepper, bass. Ivars Taurtins, conductor.
Recorded at Humbercrest United Church, Toronto, June 21-23, 1999. DDD
RCA RED SEAL 09026-638682 [62’24]

This disc has climbed to the very top of my list for disasters of the year. I can tolerate just about anything, but I had to physically force myself to listen to this CD all the way through once, let alone my self-imposed rule of listening twice through to any recording I review. The second time nearly did me in.

The Canadian Brass, who have for some time now recorded gimmicks over music, have done it again by giving us an excruciating hour of renaissance sacred masterpieces rendered upon horns. To make it even more unpalatable, they have added in a quintet of singers, who, seemingly recorded in the next room, moan along in an effort to give the ensemble one more color for its canvas. The result is about as horrid a thing as I have ever heard. It is concept art run amok and the complete ruination of some very fine vocal music.

Now there is nothing at all wrong with transcriptions. There are hundreds of them that are fabulously successful. But this music is completely dependent upon its texts. This is the high renaissance. Remember? There was that little Council of Trent thing calling for clarity of text. This is music that was written especially to convey the meaning of texts, and without them, they are, well, dull.

In a misguided attempt to rectify this problem, our brass choir has added in voices, recorded so distantly and faintly that when they are first heard, you have to wonder if there wasn’t a choir rehearsal going on elsewhere in the church that accidentally got picked up on the master tape. Soon enough you realize that this little effect is intentional, and it becomes not only bizarre, but also incredibly annoying. The fact that it is second-rate singing doesn’t help matters in the slightest.

In the program booklet, the artists go to great lengths to defend their musical decisions. They need all the defense they can get. Perry Mason couldn’t acquit this one.

Kevin Sutton


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