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Thursday, January 5, 2017
The Sun Most Radiant, Music from the Eton Choirbook Vol. 4
The Choir of Christ Church is for these works a small chamber affair, as it would have been in Eaton Chapel. They have a vibratoless radiance and a projectively heavenly sonance that seem perfect for the music. The grouping of voices ranges from SATBarB and TTTBarb B on the two versions of John Browne's setting of "Salve regina," SATTB for William Horwood's "Gaude flore virginali," and TTBarB for William, Monk of Stratford's "Magnificat."
Stephen Darlington notes in the liners of this rewarding collection that with repeated listenings the stylistic differences of the three composers begin to emerge. I can't say that I have not begun to hear the differences, though at this stage in my listening the masterful contrapuntal writing and exceptional performances mostly mingle together in my mind in one grand impression. But I have many listenings ahead with any luck so I look forward to that discerning stage of my ongoing ear training.
Suffice to say that this is an early music album of some sorely neglected music performed with exceptional spirit and grace. It opens up for us a phase of English choral music that has gone unappreciated for far too long.