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Song of Songs’s verdict on Song of Songs

Matthias Lange, (24 June, 2009)

The idea of bringing together different settings of the Song of Songs texts in a programme is by no means new… as ever, it is the interpretation which is crucial, and here this splendid ensemble has much to offer. The group Stile Antico consists of twelve young singers, all very well-educated, equipped with outstanding technical and stylistic skills. This, their third album, impressively underlines what the previous two have clearly shown: these young singers have successfully attained the first rank of interpreters of demanding vocal polyphony. Their first two discs featured compositions by the great Englishmen, like Byrd, Tallis and Sheppard; on this following release, the young singers show that they can also bring the whole range of interpretative resources to the work of the Franco-Flemish and Iberian traditions.

Stile Antico produces a flowing sound, always in the spirit of the meaning, beautifully combining absolutely homogeneous voices capable of the finest interpretative distinctions. There is no single approach for music before 1600 ? the twelve excellent vocalists demonstrate the almost-constructivist density of Gombert alongside the textual expressivity of Lassus and the lush works of the later Spanish composers, full of polychoral, early-Baroque effects.

The ensemble, without a musical director, demonstrates a sure instinct for beautiful flowing tempos, and sings at the same time with solidity, freedom and without pressing… Were one to listen only to the virtually-ideal opening of the impressive motet “Ego flos Campi” by Jacob Clemens non Papa at the beginning of the programme, any lover of vocal polyphony would immediately recognise the interpretative rank of this group. With this new recording the ensemble underscores its quickly-established, impressive status. Their future development can be unconditionally recommended to all those interested in this music.