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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    



Monastery of Chant
The Essential Guide to Classical Chillout
28 tracks variously by Robert PRIZEMAN, Sarah CLASS, RACHMANINOV, Ian TILLEY, Franz BIEBL
 performed by Libera, Cantamus, Chanticleer, Choeur Grégorien de Paris, François Polgar, Xavier Chancerelle, Capella antiqua München, Choralschola, Konrad Rühland
Licensed from Erato, Warner, Teldec, Chanticleer
rec 1985-2001
 WARNER 0927 46565 2 [2CDs: 100.10]


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This 2CD album is another mood music compilation. The mood is meditative ... spiritual even. As an aid to reflection or prayer or to provide an aural ambience in a religious venue it would be hard to beat. The truth about such albums is that they distil from many sources a fairly consistent style of music. This one tends towards the soporific. It certainly is not a CD I would recommend that you play on a long car journey over night or even during a summer afternoon. On the other hand this would be ideal material for insomniacs, meditation, contemplative Orders, hypnosis, isolation tanks, spiritual healing, renewal crystals and the like. It might even be suitable for a dentists' treatment room.

Typically the titles are largely in Latin. I doubt that anyone would think of buying this set for anything other than for mood music. It is not a collectors' item - at least not the sort of collector that visits this site. I fully expect to see this on sale at alternative medicine and homeopathy stalls in markets, county shows, specialist shops and the like.

All of that said these discs are consummately successful in quickly establishing a mood of thoughtfulness, of eternity, of isolation from worldly pressures and stress. The music taps in to the distancing from the mundane and from the worrying or fearful. Stylistically the music gently wheels around the firmament created by Allegri's Miserere, by John Rutter, by Karl Jenkins and by the minimalists. Do not expect the emotional and harmonic complexities of Herbert Howells or Kenneth Leighton.

There are no notes or background. On the positive side the two discs are in a mono-width box.

The clunky play on words ('Monastery' for 'Ministry') that makes the title of this album says it all. However the marketplace must have a need for such albums even if the target is those whose need for meditation is translated into ‘chilling out’ rather than anything more challenging or emotionally dangerous.

Rob Barnett


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