Voces 8: A Choral Tapestry

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bruckner; Byrd; Gibbons; Monteverdi; Palestrina; taverner; Victoria,etc
LABELS: Signum
ALBUM TITLE: Voces 8: A Choral Tapestry
WORKS: Choral Works
PERFORMER: Voces 8
CATALOGUE NO: SIGCD283

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The award-winning group Voces 8 is well-known for its wide-ranging programmes and accomplished technical control. In that sense the three centuries of music represented here (they skip over the 18th century) should come as no surprise, and neither will the virtuosic ensemble singing. In Monteverdi’s Cantate Dominum (this is his 1620 setting, not the 1615 one) the voices dance with incredible lightness, and the bell-like soprano voice of Andrea Haines provides the icing on the cake. In Tavener’s The Lamb the beautifully tuned chords hang in the air with a shimmering stillness, and in Tippett’s setting of the spiritual Go Down Moses the performance is gutsy and reverent by turn.

They do take some risks: in Byrd’s Vigilate, which they attack at breakneck speed, they are a little unstable; and in Brahms’s Unsere Väter some of the phrasing is rather clunky. On the other hand it would be difficult to find a recording of Victoria’s O Magnum Mysterium which matched this one for intelligent understanding and musical nuance. Mostly the recording is very clear and balanced though it can be a bit dry. Oddly, seven of these pieces (by Brahms, Bruckner and Reger) appeared last year on another CD by Voces 8 on the Mirare label, but that still leaves 11 items performed in refreshing insightful ways.

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Anthony Pryer