Thursday, 4 March, 2021 at 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm
St Martin-in-the-Fields: Fresh Horizons
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Elizabeth Roche, The Daily Telegraph (3 March, 2007)
Debut recordings rarely come as impressive as this sequence of 16th-century English music for the evening service that concluded the daily monastic round of prayer. It suggests that Stile Antico have a future as bright as their pure and crystalline soprano sound, which is heard to special advantage in the pieces by John Sheppard, the most lavishly represented composer on the disc.
His penchant for high, soaring treble lines combines with a personal approach to harmony and texture to create beautiful music with an ethereal quality, excellently exemplified in the Libera nos settings that open the programme.
Less stratospheric but equally rich and sonorous are Byrd’s glowingly ecstatic Nunc dimittis and Tallis’s seven-part Miserere nostri, which show off the precision of the group’s ensemble singing and control of phrasing and dynamics.
The latter quality, coupled with admirably clear enunciation, also enables them to give expressive performances of simpler pieces such as Byrd’s hymn Christe qui lux es, where sudden fortes emphasise the fearful dangers of the night.