COMPOSERS: Gregorian Chant
PERFORMER: Pro Cantione Antiqua/James O’Donnell
CATALOGUE NO: 88035 CD DDD Reissue
In pop music they call it a ‘sleeper’: an album which hangs around for ages, then spurts up the charts. Gregorian chant must be the greatest sleeper of all time. It led a blamelessly low-profile life for 1,400 years. Now, suddenly, no dinner party is complete without these catchy little modes droning in the background. EMI set the tone, as it were, with its chart-busting double album from the monks of Silos: robust chaps, by the sound of them, and what an echo! But DG has dug deep into its archives and brought out its recording of the same fellows, recorded 25 years ago and now repackaged as The Mystery of Santo Domingo de Silos.
The Spanish hoods have stiff competition. From France comes a double whammy. First, two saccharine compilations of Immortel Grégorien. Then comes Erato’s Holy Week Liturgy, by the exquisite Choeur Grégorien de Paris. For those with modest French, this has been repackaged in curious English under the title ‘Tranquility’ (sic). And what of the British? Yes, we are in this EuroGregorian Song Contest too. Nul points to Pro Cantione Antiqua for originality of title (The Essential Gregorian Chant), but top marks for impeccable ensemble, manly tone and value for money (71 minutes).
What will those in search of ‘tranquility’ demand next? My own recording, The Essential Sound of the Dripping Bathroom Tap, is warmly recommended as an entrancing escape from the stress of modern living. Richard Morrison