Naked Byrd / Armonico Consort
NAKED BYRD • Christopher Monks, dir; Armonico Consort • SIGNUM SIGCD 180 (55:30 Text and Translation)
BYRD Ave verum. LAURIDSEN O magnum mysterium. TALLIS Loquebantur. ALLEGRI Miserere. SHEPPARD Libera nos. GÓRECKI Totus tuus. PEARSALL Lay a Garland. TAVENER Song for Athene. BRUCKNER Ave Maria. ROBERTS Hope Finds a Way
NAKED BYRD 2 • Christopher Monks, dir; Armonico Consort • SIGNUM SIGCD 235 (52:40 Text and Translation)
Music of HERMANNUS CONTRACTUS, TALLIS, BARBER, TAVENER, PURCELL, HILDEGARD, ROBERTS, LOTTI, VICTORIA, BUCKLEY, BYRD
The first disc has been available for a while and now is sent for review with the second (a third has not come yet). The rationale for the miscellaneous collections is Christopher Monks’s perception that all these composers “wear their hearts on their sleeves,” hence naked sentiments in response to religious themes, practices, or ideals. For the first disc, Monks has chosen the most familiar work of most of these composers; only the last, Hope Finds a Way , written by Jonathan Roberts, an associate of the ensemble, is unfamiliar. Allegri’s Miserere is one of the fastest performances on records, but similar in tonal quality to most of the competition. Morten Lauridsen’s piece stands up well alongside the creator’s version under Paul Salamunovich, and the rest of the program is similarly effective.
The second disc is wider-ranging, for it goes all the way back to medieval chant. Tallis is represented by Monks’s arrangement of the psalter piece on which Ralph Vaughan Williams based his fantasia. Jonathan Roberts is favored again with Never Seek to Tell Thy Love, and another contemporary, the film and television composer David Buckley, demonstrates an unwonted side of his talent with Strengthen Ye the Weak Hands . Signature pieces of several composers crop up once more, with Lotti represented by his eight-voice Crucifixus and Barber by his Agnus Dei arrangement. Both programs are highly satisfying presentations. Only one of the earlier recordings of this group on another label has come this way. More than a vocal ensemble, the organization has engaged a much wider repertoire and pursues educational and charitable endeavors as part of its musical activity. This is superb choral work.
FANFARE: J. F. Weber
Catalog Number: SIGCD180
Label: Signum Classics
Composer: Anton Bruckner, Gregorio Allegri, Henryk Mikolaj Górecki, John Sheppard, John Tavener, Jonathan Roberts, Morten Lauridsen, Robert Lucas Pearsall, Thomas Tallis, William Byrd
Orchestra/Ensemble: Armonico Consort