Chanticleer

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The title of this collection of Renaissance choral works is taken from a passage in the New Testament in which Mary, having been informed by an angel that she will be the mother of Jesus, delivers a famous psalm-like soliloquy that begins "My soul doth magnify the Lord." The program consists of settings of that text and others written in worship of Mary; the composers include such usual suspects as Josquin des Prez, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, and Claudio Monteverdi as well as less-famous composers of the 15th and 16th century: William Cornysh, Aquilino Coppini, and the great Russian composer Vasily Titov. Pieces of Gregorian plainchant are interspersed among the polyphonic works, creating a nice contrast and balance between the hushed wonder of the chant and the rich, lush part-writing. As always, it is difficult to believe that Chanticleer is a choir of men's voices; the group's sopranos are not only impressive in their range, but manage never to sound like they are straining or pushing their voices at all. Chanticleer's lower voices are no less impressive, and the group's ensemble sense is stunning. Very highly recommended.

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