Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

An instrument of grace

Nordic Voices sing Victoria: Motets [ link]

Unfortunately I wasn't able to listen to the SACD version of this disc, but the stereo one is stunning enough. It's amazing what a rich and full and immersive sound these three men and women create. Of course they need to share credit with the Chandos engineers, the venue (Ris kirke in Oslo, which provides a rich fullness but without an exaggerated acoustic), and the genius of Tomás Luis de Victoria, who makes the most of the six vocal lines in these Motets. But the blending of these voices is really extraordinary. This music sounds so gorgeous, but I don't believe that's the real goal in these performances. Rather, these find musicians seem to be searching for the emotional and spiritual depths of this super-charged music, and the surface beauty is only a side-effect. This disc will reward deep and careful listening, with pauses for reflection.
"Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help."
When May Sarton wrote this she was speaking about gardening which is, she said, "an instrument of grace." She might have been writing about these Motets.

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