Pater Noster: A Choral Reflection on The Lord’s Prayer

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Schutz; Zielenski; Josquin des Prez; Harris; Palestrina; Byrd; Hassler; Stravinsky; Poulenc; Duruflé; Wood; Tavener; Purcell; Victoria; Bernstein; Farrant ; Lasus
LABELS: Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: Pater Noster: A Choral Reflection on The Lord’s Prayer
WORKS: Choral Works
PERFORMER: The King’s Singers
CATALOGUE NO: 8572987

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There are few vocal ensembles that can work up a concept album like The King’s Singers, and this somewhat disparate collection of sacred pieces blossoms into something rather wonderful as they are grouped into sections commenting on aspects of the Lord’s Prayer. Of course we hear settings of the Prayer itself, in Latin (Josquin, Stravinsky), English (Tavener, Bernstein), German (Schütz) and French (Duruflé), but there is much else besides.

The performances have all the panache that we associate with this group – as can be heard in the excitable liveliness of Schütz’s Die Himmel, the achingly exquisite dissonances of Purcell’s Remember Not, the rousing allargando at the end of Zielen´ski’s Benedicimus Deum, and the virtuosity of Byrd’s Vigilate. It is instructive, however, to compare their performance of Josquin’s Pater Noster, with another account by The King’s Singers from 1993 (on RCA Victor – the ensembles have only one singer in common, the countertenor David Hurley). The performances are almost the same length, but this one is less dynamically nuanced than its predecessor, the sound is harder edged, and it is much closer miked. Consequently some of the delicacy seems to be lost. The highlights on this disc are the French pieces: Poulenc’s Francis of Assisi prayers are fluid and beautifully coherent; and Duruflé’s Notre Père has a magical, settled stillness.

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Anthony Pryer