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Music for Compline Import

4.8 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, January 16, 2007
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Product Details

  • Performer: Stile Antico
  • Composer: Thomas Tallis, William Byrd, John Sheppard, Hugh Aston, Robert White, et al.
  • Audio CD (January 16, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Harmonia Mundi USA
  • ASIN: B000LPRNSG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,317 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
One is somewhat spoilt for choice these days when it comes to recordings of specialist 'early music' vocal ensembles. In Britain alone, 'brand' names such as 'The Sixteen' and 'The Tallis Scholars', however different their respective approach, have become equally synonymous with excellence in ensemble, intonation, balance and blend. On this basis alone, one might be forgiven for mistaking this CD for another release from one of these fine, long-established choirs. However, this debut recording from 'Stile Antico' has something rather distinctive and individual to offer the listener. Working as a vocal consort without conductor, these are performances born out of an internal commitment and universal understanding within the group, together with an obvious love for this repertoire which they perform so admirably. It is deeply refreshing, in a professional environment where 'time is money', to hear an ensemble who have so noticeably spent a great deal of time 'living' with the music, no doubt both as individuals and collectively as a group. This crucial element of music-making, so often over-looked, is perhaps above all what makes this recording stand out. In fairness, the result is not necessarily superior to that of a conducted ensemble, where a different style of direction in the performances can be attained. But whatever one's preferences - 'Stile Antico' have certainly achieved a winning combination - communicative performances which are simultaneously meditative and emotionally uplifting.

Impeccable ensemble is evident throughout the disc, and this is especially impressive when accomplished within various well-judged slow tempi.
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Format: Audio CD
I got an e-mail from amazon recently to the effect of, "We've noticed that you've rated so-and-so, so we thought you'd be interested in the new release Music for Compline." I usually ignore such e-mails, but I thought I'd check it out. I was intrigued by the audio samples and so downloaded the album on iTunes.

I don't know how a group of young upstarts from Britain without a conductor were able to produce such a sound, but they did. "Music for Compline" focuses on music from composers in England during the transition from Catholicism to Protestantism- Byrd, Sheppard, Tallis, etc.- and as the title implies, it's music that would have been used during a compline service at the time. Compline, for those of you not familiar with the Liturgy of the Hours, is the last prayer service in the liturgical day. As such, the music is serene, contemplative, and prayerful.

The way Stile Antico has gelled as a group is amazing, especially considering they have no conductor. (Although they surely have at least a de-facto rehearsal leader) Their sound is clear and beautiful, and they display exquisite musicianship without being overly technical or icy. They are able to share their fresh (though informed) perspectives on early music with each other to create an organic sound, so not having a conductor actually turns out to be an asset for these young musicians.

Fans of the Tallis Scholars will love this CD. Arguably, Stile Antico is better than the Tallis Scholars in some ways. To elaborate, the Tallis Scholars, as good as they are, can come across as technical and icy, whereas Stile Antico never does, at least not to my ears. On the contrary, they have a warm, authentic sound. Not that I have anything against the Tallis Scholars.

In conclusion, for everyone who loves sacred choral music, or beautiful music in general, "Music for Compline" is a must-have. The musical serenity will be a refuge from stress, and will uplift your spirits.
4 Comments 137 of 137 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Audio CD
If the Beach Boys at their most sublime (say on Don't Worry Baby or Let Him Run Wild) or their artistic model, The Four Freshmen, doubled their forces and then sang their most ravishing harmonies in a perfect acoustic venue recorded with the latest multichannel technology, one might have some idea of what Stile Antico has achieved on this gorgeous recording. They have recorded a program of 16th and 17th century polyphony written by England's finest composers of the era for the office of Compline, the last of the daily monastic hours and a lovely form of prayer for the night. The composers include John Sheppard, William Byrd, Thomas Tallis, Robert White and Hugh Aston. Interspersed are various examples of plainchant, which serve to highlight the complexity and heighten the beauty of the composed pieces.

All of the music on this disc essentially comes from the Catholic sphere of 16th century England, a time of great religious turmoil during those pre-Reformation days. The pieces recorded here were written while religous strife roiled England. Church music was profoundly impacted by the oscillating religious beliefs that were variously associated with the late liturgical Catholicism of Henry VIII (despite his break with Rome in 1534), the puritanical Protestanism under the young Edward VI, the fervent return to Catholicism of Queen Mary (in which she burned at the stake those Protestants who stood against her and reinstated the elaborate music and ceremonies of the old Catholic rites) and the moderate Protestanism of Elizabeth, which continues to define Anglicanism to this day. These pieces were not all written under the rule of a Catholic monarch. Subtle differences can be heard with careful and sensitive listening.
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5 Comments 50 of 51 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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