Chant: Music for Paradise

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COMPOSERS: Gregorian Chant
LABELS: UCJ
WORKS: Gregorian Chant
PERFORMER: Cistercian Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz
CATALOGUE NO: 176 6016

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It’s strange to think that music originally devised as a way of remembering texts, often little more than heightened speech, has stood the test of time so triumphantly.

Until the late 20th century artistic progress was principally equated with increased complexity, but then the Holy Minimalists plugged into the purity, directness and radiance of medieval chant, paradoxically finding freshness in ancient ideas and sending their listeners off to investigate the models from which they drew their inspiration.

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As the Abbot says in the insert notes, this is not music for its own sake: it is prayer. For most listeners the Latin will be merely a texture contributing to the celestial beauty of the sound, but for the performers the words are crucial, and there is always a special frisson in hearing chant performed by monks rather than professional singers. Barry Witherden