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superb BD-A sound

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rush out and buy this

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match any I’ve heard

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music that will be new to most people

telling, tough, thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded

hitherto unrecorded Latvian music


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Sing with the Voice of Melody - Stile Antico Tenth Anniversary
Thomas TOMKINS (1572-1656)
O praise the Lord [3:42]
Jacobus CLEMENS NON PAPA (c.1510/15-1555/56)
Ego flos campi [6:01]
William BYRD (c.1540-1623)
Ecce virgo concipiet (Gradualia I, 1605) [2:15]
Vigilate (Cantiones sacrae I, 1589) [4:13]
Nicolas GOMBERT (c.1495-c.1650)
Magnificent primi toni [11:48]
Thomas TALLIS (c.1505-1585)
In pace in idipsum [5:47]
Gloria (Missa Puer natus est) [9:29]
Tomás Luis de VICTORIA (c.1548-1611)
O vos omnes [4:14]
John McCABE (1939-2015)
Woefully Arrayed [9:55]
John SHEPPARD (c.1515-1558)
The Lord’s Prayer [4:19]
Orlando GIBBONS (1583-1625)
O clap your hands together [5:30]
Rodrigo de CEBALLOS (c.1530-1581)
Hortus conclusus [5:31]
Stile Antico
Texts and translations included
rec. 2006-2013, Air Studios, Lyndhurst Hall, St Jude-on-the-Hill, All Hallows’ Church, Gospel Oak, London

Stile Antico have garnered some excellent reviews over the decade that they have been performing and recording. To mark their tenth anniversary a highlights selection has been compiled which has allowed the current twelve singers the opportunity to select one particular recording from the group’s back-catalogue. A certain piquancy is added by the fact that they’ve been encouraged to write a paragraph or so explaining why they’ve selected the particular track. That gives a greater sense of personalisation and intimacy to the undertaking – rather than an omniscient selection panel, one feels a more private approach – and even those given to detect an element of phoniness about this will be silenced, I think, by tenor Andrew Griffiths’ selection of Clemens non Papa’s Ego flos campi – a piece he loves so much that he asked the group to perform it at his wedding.

A similar sense of identification and genuine admiration and love for the music informs the other selections, if not always to quite such a highly charged degree. The conductor-less and director-less ensemble has a splendid series of discs on which to call. All are represented here, though the watchful will note that there are two tracks each from the albums Puer natus est, Song of Songs, and Passion & Resurrection. All the relevant CDs are carefully presented in the booklet with artwork and full catalogue numbers.

Given that a number of these discs have been reviewed on this site and this is a sophisticated rehash, but a rehash nonetheless, I won’t spend too much critical ink on the contents except to note that I was struck once more by just how accomplished this group is. Technical precision underpins everything; dynamics are at all times finely shaped and convincing. Purity of tone and tonal blend alike are magnificent. The music’s solemnity or joyousness – try the outstanding Gombert Magnificat primi toni – are alike richly characterised and fully conveyed. Breadth of tone can be savoured in the Tallis Gloria. There is a souvenir of their devotion to contemporary literature in John McCabe’s Woefully arrayed.

It’s good that all members of the group, past and present, are listed in the personnel – notably long-standing members no longer in the ensemble such as Carris Jones and Oliver Hunt.

This is a fine souvenir of Stile antico, though once bitten by the bug you will probably want to get hold of the original albums - which is doubtless the point.

Jonathan Woolf



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