Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Sixteen, Harry Christophers, The Deer's Cry, Choral Music of Part and Byrd

The old-in-the-new? The perennial newness of the classic old? That combination hits home with the superlative vocal ensemble the Sixteen under Harry Christophers and their new album of the music of William Byrd and Arvo Part, The Deer's Cry (CORO 16140). Part of course is our contemporary. William Byrd wrote his music some 400 years ago. The brief, mostly sacred choral music represented here has a timelessness born of eternal verities, of sonically profound emanations.

And the sheer beauty of it all is brought out maximally thanks to the Sixteen and their unmatched sonaric expressiveness.

Arvo Part comes to our ears in three short but moving works--"The Deer's Cry," "The Woman with the Alabaster Box," and "Nunc Dimittis," all choice choral works that remind us how rooted Part is in past-present juxtapositions, and indeed, how magical the results are, nearly always.

The William Byrd works are gems from his Cantiones Sacrae series, plus one work now thought to be a collaboration between Byrd and Thomas Tallis. A brief additional Tallis work rounds out the program.

These are works you expect The Sixteen to excel at and they most certainly do. The combination of Byrd and Part is not a typical one--but there is the logic of the similarities-in-difference at work that changes how you listen to both composers in the end.

This is a program you will want to come back to frequently, if you are like me and revel in how the Sixteen handles such music.

Heartily recommended.

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