Song of Songs has already won the 2009 Gramophone Award for the Early Music. "This collection of settings by composers including Palestrina, Guerrero, Gombert, Victoria and Lassus of words from the biblical Song of Songs was a sumptuous and beautifully performed highlight of last year's choral releases. - Gramophone.
As the title suggests, this recording is a compilation of renaissance compositions using texts from the Song of Solomon, the biblical collection of love poetry, purportedly written by King Solomon to a Shulamite girl. Many groups have fished in this pool before, but Stile Antico's repertoire choices and exquisite program notes (written by Matthew O'Donovan, one of the basses) draw a well delineated link between the surge in medieval popularity and the suitability of these texts for the purposes of the Marian 'cult' that portrayed the Virgin Mary as the representation of the church as a whole. This album holds together as a concert and a concept better than any other attempt at this repertoire that I have heard but Stile Antico really set themselves apart when they perform. These musicians work without a conductor, which is common practice for chamber instrumentalists, but uncommon in a group of this size. Perilous as the concept might sound for a group of singers, I've never heard musicians present this repertoire with such a high level of commitment. This music has seldom been more engaging. -- Hugo Munday