A recording of startling austerity and simple beauty, revealing how services from...
Andrew McGregor 2005
In many ways this recording is about an acoustic: the famously flattering ambience of King's College Cambridge, which has reverberated to the sound of human voices raised in praise since the mid fifteenth century.
If you're used to the King's College Choir singing choral evensong, or Nine Lessons and Carols at Christmas, the startling austerity and simple beauty of this Gregorian chant CD could be a revelation; services from King's as they might have been heard there over 500 years ago.
But there are a few caveats; it's mens voices only in the recording, and there'd very probably have been boys in the early days, but no-one's sure when and how they'd have been deployed.
There was also an organ in medieval Kings, and it would have been used for services like these...but the current King's organ is half-a-millennium ahead of the original instrument, so they've thought it best not to use it at all.
Stephen Cleobury is at pains to make us notice the acoustic, pausing between verses longer than I expected, encouraging us to follow the sound as it recedes down the nave. And what a sound, superbly captured by the recording; it's as though the choir is giving thanks to the building by exciting its historical echoes, and making us more fully aware of its past.
Like This? Try These:
Music for the Duke of Lerma (Gabrieli Consort)
Pergolesi: Marian Vespers (Choir of New College, Oxford)
de Rore: Missa Praeter rerum serium (Huelgas Ensemble)