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Reviewed in the United States on November 19, 2012
I just received my copy of Advent at Ephesus today, and it was just as beautiful as I'd expected. There is such a shortage of Advent music. What a joy to have such a lovely variety, from Chant to Polyphony to a piece just recently written. The entire album is a capella, which lends itself to meditative mood, but there is so much joyful anticipation of the Christmas season that it is also just enjoyable to listen to. Although I loved both the familiar and less familiar Advent melodies, my very favorite was the original work by the Benedictines of Mary, "Adjuvabit Eam". It is also nice to know that in buying this CD, you not only get fantastic music, but you support a young, growing order of traditional Catholic sisters. I'm already looking forward to their next album.
Reviewed in the United States on December 16, 2016
I stumbled upon this while looking for some Georgian chants and thought it would be interesting to try some female vocals. I listen to this while driving all the time in December. It really relaxes me and I blast it so that their voices are ringing all around me.This is what keeps me centered amid all the people who seem to go crazy during the holiday season and haven't learned how to enjoy it. It feels like little angels are released each time you play this. I also have their carol CD but while it is good it is not quite the same quality as this one. With the exception of "O Come Emmanuel" I do not recognize any of the other choices (but then maybe I would if I were Catholic) so I can listen to this anytime of the year and just appreciate the beauty of the music. I also like to listen to it with a "glass" of something while working on jigsaw puzzles. They appear to be a lovely collection of women and I wish them much success! And keep the CDs coming please!
I agree with the positive comments about this collection: that the voices are beautiful, the pieces and performances are reverent, the atmosphere is calming, etc.
But I want to leave an honest review. As you listen to this entire collection, it becomes overtaken by "sameness". The tracks have much the same simple harmonies, much the same tempo or rhythym, same vocal range, same easy-going manner, same muddy dynamics (too much "compression" if you know what that is), etc.
Even by the standards of a small choir keeping things humble, this collection is a bit monotonous. It lacks moments of intensity, variety, sonic texture.
Reviewed in the United States on November 21, 2012
God bless these Sisters, my sisters and friends! I was a part of this religious community for a year of discernment and am overjoyed that their musical ability has found wider audience now. This Advent music is some of my favorite music of all, and for me it brings back many happy memories of life in the convent there too. But I guarantee that anyone who is looking for something new to listen to for this Advent season will be just as happy about hearing it. :)
And, when Christmas has arrived, you can just switch to their previous CD: "Christmas at Ephesus" (available on their website, it was self-published)
The Benedictines of Mary are a newer Catholic religious order of contemplative nuns, traditional in their faith and joyful in their life - and YOUNG. When I entered the convent I was one of the older sisters... at 28. :) They recently were able to move "back to the land" and are working towards building a self-sustaining rural monastery in Missouri, but they are in great need of financial assistance to clear the debt on the building they built to live in before they can proceed further. Purchase of this music/CD, and the other three CDs that they self-published before this one ("Echoes of Ephesus", "Christmas at Ephesus", and "Marian Hymns of Ephesus"), will all help to contribute to the practical needs of their growing community - and to the spiritual needs of yourself!
Find out more about these sisters at their website benedictinesofmary dot org
I was a bit surprised at first by the number and high ratings of the reviews for this recording, given that this isn't an offering from one of the "superstars" of the sacred music genre (if you'll pardon the expression). I had never heard of this group of sisters but bought the download based solely on the reviews I read. As others have mentioned, the subject of the song selection is a refreshing surprise but that is not the best part by far.
Where this album really shines is a combination of two areas: This offering has a truly excellent recording quality and acoustics in the environment they chose and this group's collective voice is unusually delicate and clear - smoothly and perfectly harmonized. There is not a hint of discordance or a strident or harsh note to be found, even on the highest registers. The result, to me, is the aural equivalent of warm chocolate. You can close your eyes and almost feel like you are in a cathedral with them, listening to their voices wind around and through, uplifting each other.
Overall, these songs are serene and peaceful without being boring and the closest other recording I can draw an equivalent to is Stile Antico's "Music for Compline". Definitely one of the highest quality offerings I have bought in a long time, and I absolutely cannot wait to see what they come up with for their next album.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 28, 2020
Beautiful and holy music from the Nuns. I listen this on advent and sing along, felt like I was in the Monastery with them it was great. It's a great way to start of your Advent season. Buy it you will be glad you did.