Daniel Taylor / Trinity Choir

The Path to Paradise

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Specialist recordings of Renaissance music tend to focus on a single style, composer, or period. Recordings aimed at general listeners tend to do the same, perhaps inviting listeners to draw analogies with visual art or with history. Conductor Daniel Taylor and his Trinity Choir do something entirely different. There's a seductive surface to the choir's sound, accounting in part for its popularity, but that's not all there is to it: you don't need obscure Renaissance works by the likes of John Sheppard and Nicolas Gombert to get by on a smooth surface. Instead, Taylor is trying to get you to hear Renaissance music with something like the ears of the people who first sang it and listened to it. Is it full-textured or simple? Polyphonic or chordal? Imitative in texture or free? Taylor's program moves from one type to another. You can listen to more from any of these composers in other performances, but what Taylor does is get you to hear the differences, and to set them off beautifully. To this end, he also introduces contemporary, unaccompanied polyphony by Arvo Pärt (the much-recorded, but rarely so reverently recorded, Magnificat and Nunc dimittis), which brings the texture down to its simplest at the middle of the program and then has it expand again. Sony's sound from St. Albans the Martyr church in London reveals lovely shades in the choir's sound. Highly recommended, and a great place to start with Renaissance music for anyone.

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