O Magnum Mysterium (Oh Great Mystery) begins one of the masterpieces heard on this album, spelling out the spiritual inspiration behind all sacred Renaissance music. Recommended in Laura Berquist Syllabus Grade 7Format: 24... more » tracks, Audio CDPublisher: Delos RecordsArtist: Dennis Keene ISBN: 0-1349131652« less
O Magnum Mysterium (Oh Great Mystery) begins one of the masterpieces heard on this album, spelling out the spiritual inspiration behind all sacred Renaissance music. Recommended in Laura Berquist Syllabus Grade 7Format: 24 tracks, Audio CDPublisher: Delos RecordsArtist: Dennis Keene ISBN: 0-1349131652
Suze Y. from BINGHAMTON, NY Reviewed on 3/8/2010...
**** Great music, but not as different as I'd hoped for.
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
A fine introductory recording...
Guy Cutting | 06/12/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This disc is a very good one for the purpose it serves. What is that purpose? A Renaissance survey of sorts. Many perennial favorites are included - Palestrina's Sicut Cervus, Byrd's Ave Verum Corpus, Victoria's O Magnum Mysterium, Josquin's Ave Maria, Tallis' If ye love me, just to name a few. These are Renaissance workhorses, and for good reason - not only are they textbook examples of the Renaissance idiom, they are of a beauty and warmth which conceals astounding technical skill. A wide range of works are presented, from Josquin to Schutz (who is, I think, most often considered a Baroque composer); the disc, then, provides a wide reaching collection. The choir, which is rather large (at least from my perspective) is of good quality. The size, for the most part, does not prevent clarity of presentation (although I think some of the works such as Ave Maria and If ye love me, among others, are really best sung with one voice per part - even in a skilled choir size serves to obscure the part-writing, and furthermore the musical objective of many of these pieces is intimacy). Their tone is good, generally well focused, although sometimes lacking warmth and smoothness. The color they produce is adequate (some of these pieces really, as I said, require smaller forces to REALLY be heard - not to mention that a choir of mixed male and female voices really cannot do justice to the sonority of some of these pieces). The acoustic is not as resonant as I'd like. Interpretations are also adequate, although tempos are almost uniformly on the fast (or even what is to me the hurried) side (Sicut Cervus and O Sacrum Convivium are examples of the problem). These tempi serve to take from the music the sense of contemplation it deserves - instead of allowing the music to speak through them it seems that the choir is forcing the music to speak in a which it was not meant to. But all these objections are minor ones in context - the scope of the recording is far reaching enough that many of those things are to be expected. As I said, this recording is a fine introduction to Renaissance music (it offers in that way things that many other recordings like it cannot - the choice and range of pieces is actually reasonable). Someone with listening experience in Renaissance music should go for, possibly, Hilliard Ensemble recordings of the Tallis and Josquin and Christ Church Cathedral recordings of the Palestrina Sicut Cervus(just to name two groups). This disc will probably be one you listen to often because of the uniform quality of the pieces - again it does what it intends to very well. Some problems and issues of taste should not deter. Recommended..."
A stunning rendition of glorious Renaissance choral music!
M. Ramos | 01/31/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording is, in my opinion, one of the most impressive performances of Renaissance choral music ever. The Voices of Ascension, directed by Dennis Keene, give performances of great beauty, with perfect blend and expressivity. Every single number is a musical delight. The selection of the program is a real asset. The listener has an overview of some of the most famous motets by such masters as Palestrina, Victoria, Lassus, Desprez and others. There is room for all kind of religious mood: from the solemn, meditative tone of Byrd's Ave Verum Corpus and Victoria's Jesu, Dulcis Memoria to the exultant, festive tone of Sweelinck's Hodie Christus Natus Est. Keene makes some interesting changes in tempo. In O Magnum Mysterium, one of the most famous motets of Tomás Luis de Victoria, the final Alleluia part is faster than the way it is normally done. The effect is haunting: a festive chorus of praise after a solemn meditation on the Incarnation of Christ. These interpretations are not only excellent in an musical way. The singers and director convey the mystical and devotional aspects of these jewels of the choral repertoire."
So Many Favorite Pieces!
Carolyn K Armistead | Moore, OK USA | 07/16/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I sing in the choir at our Episcopal Church, and so many of these pieces are favorites that we perform regularly. It is a joy to have this fine recording to use as inspiration and review when these pieces come up on our anthem list again! We often listen to recordings of the pieces we are to perform, in order to get a feel for the music, a better idea of the sound we are looking for. This collection will help in that area, and it will be a wonderful and relaxing CD to have around for general listening. I highly recommend this CD to anyone who enjoys traditional Anglican choral music."
Excellent introduction to Renaissance choral music.
Benjamin L. Filippone | Pittsburgh, PA United States | 03/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was my first CD of sacred Renaissance choral music, as it undoubtably has been for a great many people. It offers the best possible introduction to the genre for two main reasons: 1. No other CD of Renaissance choral music contains such a varied cross-section of early to late Renaissance sacred music styles. 2. The performance and recording quality are excellent.
Keene uses a variety of different voicings and numbers of singers according to the needs of each particular piece, sometimes with only two on a part. The ensemble heard on this recording is a select professional core of The Voices Of Ascension, one of the best choral groups in the country. The voices are all very rich and resonant, and the intonation through the entire CD is unquestionably on par with the best in the world. The singing is, for the most part, completely vibratoless and extremely pure, which of course works very well with this music. However, it does become somewhat strident at times, namely on the few selections that are performed in unnecessarily high keys.
Of particularly high quality and beauty are the Viadana "Exultate Justi", Byrd's "Ave Verum Corpus", Tallis' "O Sacrum Convivium", and the Victoria and Sweelinck pieces. Another extraordinary track is Leonardo Leo's "Heu Nos Miseros", a late Baroque piece included because of its influence from earlier styles. It is a nine-part double choir piece full of extravigant dissonances and emotion, performed breathtakingly."
The Best Choral Group in the US Today
Mathew Calewarts | VA | 02/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Voices of Ascension have again outdone themselves on this CD. EVERY detail of EVERY song is thoughtfully expressed and caried through. Featured on this CD is a collection of standard Renaissance works known to all who are familair with the "The Golden Age of Choral Music". My two particular favorites from the CD are Sweelinck's "Hodie Christus Natus Est" and Schutz's "Selig sind die Toten". Fans of early music will truly appreciate this CD. It is a must buy!"