Here is the two-decades-in-the-making recording from the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos, featuring Gregorian Chant a millennium-old, recorded with up-to-date technology. Indescribably moving.
Thanks to good marketing, good cover art, and good luck, this disc probably has sold more copies than most other recordings of Gregorian chant put together. It's often quipped that most of those discs have been listened to exactly once and put away--to the puzzlement of many musicians and critics, who point out that there are more beautiful, more varied performances by professional singers available. Yet the singing of these Spanish Benedictines has a special quality that probably explains this disc's popularity--a reverent serenity that no doubt stems from the fact that the monks are actually praying, not just performing. Granted, Chant
can become a bit monotonous with repeated listening, but it really gives you the sense of devotion that has always been the purpose of "Gregorian" chant. If this recording (ahem) enchants you at first, wonderful. If you get bored with it later, don't give up--there has been an extraordinary variety of styles and sounds over the 1,500-year history of plainchant, so go exploring with Anonymous 4
, Ensemble Gilles Binchois
, or Ensemble Organum
. You won't be sorry. --Matthew Westphal