If one word springs to mind while listening to the a cappella choral music of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, it is purity, and one of the leading choral groups best suited to conveying that purity is the Sixteen, directed by Harry Christophers. This sublime vocal ensemble has perfected its blend of voices and developed such a transparent ensemble tone, it's difficult to imagine any other choir that can surpass it in this music, often regarded as the ideal of Renaissance counterpoint. In this first volume of a series of Palestrina recordings, Christophers leads the singers in performances of the Missa Assumpta est Maria, the motets Salve Regina and the Ave Maria, and selected settings from the Song of Songs; the serene calm of this sacred music is consistently controlled. The voices weave in mellifluous counterpoint, but the striking radiance of the triadic harmony, often situated in the high tessitura, lends the music an ecstatic quality that is enhanced by the resonant acoustics of the Church of St. Alban the Martyr, London. The sound quality, like other releases by the Sixteen on Coro, is pristine and spacious, so this album is a real treat for audiophiles, as well as an awe-inspiring album for devotees of Renaissance music.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Missa Assumpta est Maria|