disc contains sixteen new songs from the Taize community in
France. Apart from the last track, which is from the Russian
Orthodox tradition, they were written by monks of the community.
They are inspired by sections of the mass, and phrases from
the Psalms. The Taize style is musically simple, relying on
repetitive character to create a meditative and contemplative
approach to prayer and devotion.
the songs were recorded in the 12th century village church,
which has a beautiful acoustic. Although the quality of the
recording and the performance is excellent, the main interest
of this disk is likely to be religious primarily rather then
musical. It may be that, like discs of Gregorian Chant such
as that from the Silos monastery, it will also appeal to listeners
who enjoy its calm, peaceful and inspiring sound but who do
not share the faith of those composing and recording the music.
However it is explicitly Christian material and written with
explicit religious purposes, which inevitably may limit its
songs are performed in a variety of languages: Latin, Portuguese,
German, English, French, Polish, Greek and Russian. Those which
are in unison throughout use one language but various languages
are used in turn on the disc. There are six tracks in which
an initial choral section is followed by portions for one or
more soloists. In these, different languages are used in turn
for different verses of the same song. These devices are intended
to reflect the international nature of the community. Although
this is an admirable sentiment, it can sometimes be distracting
and personally I found it made a contemplative frame of mind
more difficult to achieve.
is also limited variation in tone and (the rather high) pitch
through the disc. This may be partly to create a mantra-like
sound-world. However, I actually found the most moving and
beautiful track to be Kyrie Eleison (11); the only one
in which there is a significant shift of pitch, either within
the track or compared with the others on the disc.
listeners' view of this issue will be a matter of personal
preference and perhaps depend upon their purposes in listening
to this music. The same would apply to consideration as to
whether this is the best introduction to Taize's music. Personally
I would prefer either Ubi Caritas T558 (whose title
track is quite widely known and sometimes used on Maundy Thursday)
or Chants de la Prière à Taize T560 for this. For those
who already know and like the Taize songs and chants, this
may be welcome addition to and extension of the recorded repertoire.
More details about the community, its work and its music can
be found at the website.