How do you get consumers to buy something they've already bought before? Perhaps through packaging something like Les Plus Beaux Chants Grégoriens (The Most Beautiful Gregorian Chants). Though there's no sign of monks floating in the air or suspended brickwork on the front cover, half of this disc is devoted to the same group of Spanish Hispavox recordings, made between 1978-1981, of the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos, already used in EMI's multi-million selling chant series in the mid-'90s. At least here the liturgical context is intact for the latter part of the disc; the office and mass for Advent are sung by the Monks & Nuns Choir of the Abbey of Bec-Hellouin in Solemne, France. These recordings were made in 1973 and are not necessarily the "most beautiful" in terms of sound, suffering from a bright treble and some measure of distortion. Moreover, the Advent services are not exclusively chant-based but include some polyphonic sections, including works by Goudimel and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, though this accurately reflects the preferences of most contemporary choirs that continue to sing chant to mix it up with a little polyphonic music. Chances are if you invested in Chant III, the Chant Collection, or Chant: The Anniversary Edition, you will already have some, if not all, of the Santo Domingo de Silos material featured on EMI Classics' Les Plus Beaux Chants Grégoriens. Whether listeners will want the Abbey of Bec-Hellouin material will be a matter of taste, though if it is of primary interest, another EMI disc, Chant Grégorien et Polyphonie à l'Abbaye du Bec-Hellouin, contains everything on this collection, not to mention another LP's worth of the same group recorded in 1974.
AllMusic Review by Uncle Dave Lewis