Presto News - 25th August 2008
Beautiful Messiah and Exquisite Morales
After a quiet August, the classical record industry kicks into full swing again in September with a real bumper batch of new recordings. I'm lucky enough to have heard many of them now, and over the next couple of months I will guide you through the things you really should be considering. This week I've been enchanted by the most beautiful Handel Messiah you will ever hear from the Sixteen under Harry Christophers and a ravishing disc of rare works of Spanish renaissance composer Cristóbal de Morales from the The Brabant Ensemble under Stephen Rice.
Believe it or not, The Sixteen has performed Handel's Messiah over 150 times, and already have a recording in the catalogue which they made for Hyperion about ten years ago. The worry then is that this new recording might sound a bit run of the mill. Not a bit of it. It is truly stunning from beginning to end. The tempos are generally slightly faster than on the earlier recording but it is the quality of sound which stands it apart. The choruses are all perfectly balanced, and there isn't a harsh sound anywhere on the disc. Add to this four outstanding soloists in Carolyn Sampson, Catherine Wyn-Rogers, Mark Padmore and Christopher Purves (three of whom sang as members of The Sixteen before embarking on their solo careers) and this is a formidable achievement. Coming with a free bonus disc of Handel arias drawn from the Coro catalogue, and at our special New Release discount price, it offers a bargain 3 discs for the price of 1. Not to be missed.
The Brabant Ensemble
Born in 1500, Cristóbal de Morales was undoubtedly the first Spanish composer of international renown. Although there are several very fine Morales discs available elsewhere, they tend to all cover the same basic repertoire. This disc is important as it includes many works not otherwise currently available, including the first complete recording of the Magnificat.
After widely praised recordings of Crecquillon, Manchicourt and Gombert, the Brabant Ensemble are quickly establishing themselves as major contenders in the field of Renaissance polyphony. I've put a sample on for you to listen to - I think you'll find it hard to resist!
Carolyn Sampson, Catherine Wyn-Rogers, Mark Padmore, Christopher Purves, The Sixteen, Harry Christophers
Cristóbal de Morales - Magnificat, Motets & Lamentations
The Brabant Ensemble, Stephen Rice
Chris O'Reilly - firstname.lastname@example.org
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