King's Singers

The Golden Age

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In this CD, the King's Singers focus on penitential vocal polyphony of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries -- the "Golden Age" -- in Spain, Portugal, and Mexico. Given the subject matter, with the tone of the album fairly consistent, it's deeply expressive, but thoroughly somber and subdued. Alonso Lobo's Lamentations, with texts from the book of Jeremiah, is especially impressive in its scope, depth of feeling, and emotional impact. Several composers, such as Tomás Luis de Victoria, Sebastián de Vivanco, Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla, and Alonso Lobo set the same text, Versa est in luctum, from the book of Job. It's intriguing to compare these settings by nearly contemporary writers; the emotional tone of all the pieces is remarkably similar and all use falling figures to express despair and anguish, but the composers find subtly varied means of making their evocations of grief deeply personal and distinctive. The King's Singers perform with their customary purity, elegance, warm blend, and assured sense of ensemble and the group seems to breathe as a single organism. There is a richness of tone, particularly in the lower voices, that sounds as resonant as cellos. The sound is wonderfully clean and intimate. This collection should appeal to any fans of Renaissance and Baroque polyphony; the luminous performances make it possible to savor the unalleviated dark mood of the music.

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