The sacred music of Francis Poulenc would seem somewhat off the regular path of the popular British choir The Sixteen, but in a recording of the cantata Figure humaine and again with the present selection of sacred choral works, they show themselves to be sensitive and skillful Poulenc interpreters. On one hand this isn't a surprise: Poulenc drew on the Renaissance repertoire that is The Sixteen's bread and butter. They can deliver the clean lines and the vocal homogeneity that the basic style demands. But this is not neo-Renaissance music; it has a numinous, radiant quality and communicates the feeling that it was directly shaped by Poulenc's own experiences. This is where The Sixteen excel: they convey a sense of commitment to the music, and their readings are unique. Sample the "O magnum mysterium." There are dozens of recordings of this piece, beloved by school choirs in several countries, but Sixteen director Harry Christophers here shapes a flowing reading that's faster than usual and uniquely suits the transcendent quality of the text. The Mass in G is perfectly controlled, but somehow radiant. Christophers' engineering staff delivers superior results in London's Church of St. Alban the Martyr, and the package as a whole offers uniquely satisfying results even for those who already have plenty of Poulenc, or plenty of The Sixteen.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Quatre motets pour un temps de pénitence FP 97|
|Quatre motets pour le temps de Noël FP 152|
|Un soir de neige FP 126|
|Mass in G FP 89|