Compared with his expansive symphonies, which are methodically developed over several long movements, the choral motets of Anton Bruckner are models of brevity, seldom lasting longer than five minutes and rarely extending beyond simple text setting, with minimal repetition. As sacred works, they are also considerably less dramatic (some might say less bombastic) than his orchestral works, and the dominant mood of calm religious reflection keeps the expression modest and introspective. This 2011 album by the Choir of St. Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh, led by director and organist Duncan Ferguson, brings together the best known of Bruckner's motets, and the purity of these pieces is highlighted by the transparent voices of the trebles (both girls and boys) and men. The singers are joined by the brass from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and the somber tones of trombones add a quality reminiscent of the Renaissance style of Giovanni Gabrieli. Listeners who balk at Bruckner's symphonies may find this quieter side of the composer more appealing, and the exceptional performances are sure to please even the most demanding choral aficionado. Delphian's recording in the cathedral is excellent, capturing all the details of the choral parts while preserving the radiant ambience of the acoustics.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson