Pro Cantione Antiqua

Tears & Lamentations

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Tears & Lamentations is an all too apt title for this truly, deeply, profoundly gloomy collection of English Renaissance choral music. Combining eight works drawn from either the Fayrfax Manuscript or from Henry VIII's manuscript plus two works by Robert White, including his large-scale setting of the Prophet Jeremiah, this disc by the Pro Cantione Antiqua directed by Mark Brown and Edgar Fleet makes even such later English masters of melancholy like Dowland sound positively giddy by comparison. Not that the performances aren't excellent. Austere in tone and severe in intonation, the Pro Cantione Antiqua sings with unfailing virtuosity and relentless intensity, and Fleet in the Jeremiah setting and Brown in everything else lead them with command and compassion. But the music itself is so fuliginously dark, so oppressively dank, and so excruciatingly painful that only the heartiest fans of Renaissance choral music may be able to endure this disc without contemplating suicide. Regis' un-remastered digital re-release of a ASV's original 1982 and 1995 digital recordings is as real as the air in the room with the listener.

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