Tavener, Ireland,Rachmaninov, Sheremetiev,Britten, Lukaszewski, Lotti, Allegri,Kod‡ly, Holst, Harris & Traditional

COMPOSERS: Allegri,Britten,Harris & Traditional,Holst,Ireland,Kodaly,Lotti,Lukaszewski,Rachmaninov,Sheremetiev,Tavener
LABELS: Signum
ALBUM TITLE: Allegri Miserere
WORKS: Choral works by Tavener • Ireland •
Rachmaninov • Sheremetiev •
Britten • Lukaszewski • Lotti • Allegri •
Kodály • Holst • Harris & Traditional
PERFORMER: Tenebrae/Nigel Short
CATALOGUE NO: SIGCD 085
Am I alone in unwrapping with a heavy heart any CD fronted by a soft-focus, candle-lit, church-esque picture, emblazoned in the largest possible font, ‘Allegri Miserere’? In this case, dear listener, press on, for the packaging does the content no justice. The programme is a potpourri, and one from which emanates the refined scent of the collegiate choir, à la King’s or Trinity. The tuning is impeccable, the blend unimpeachable. Director Nigel Short was a member of the King’s Singers for seven years, and their signature soft fuzziness of tone plays a part in the Tenebrae sound.

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Indeed, the strength of Tenebrae – their brand, if you like – is the breadth of range from almost kitschy murmuring to the full-throated beltissimo. The former brings welcome intimacy to the Britten Hymn to St Cecilia, while the latter powerfully propels Holst’s Psalm 148 to its conclusion, albeit in youthful, fresh-sounding style. The disc ends with that bedrock of English choral singing, Harris’s Faire is the Heaven, in which one would be forgiven for thinking Spenser’s final words, ‘such endlesse perfectnesse’, refer to the choir themselves rather than the state of heaven. Some successful spatial effects in the engineering, and overall nicely captured. William Whitehead