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Media Vita

The Observer enjoys Media Vita

Fiona Maddocks, The Observer (10 January, 2010)

This recording of works by Tudor composer John Sheppard (1515-1558) is the fourth disc by young British ensemble Stile Antico, and the best yet. Their purity of sound, with a fullness achieved by only 14 voices, reveals Sheppard’s rich counterpoint. Despite this extraordinary finesse there’s no self-conscious beauty, only intelligent, vital simplicity. Sheppard is one of the more mysterious of “English Renaissance” composers. The meditative, 25-minute central work, “Media Vita” (“In the midst of life we are in death”), dark with agonising dissonances, is a heartfelt quest for consolation, and a formidable masterpiece.