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Magnificat - Scattered Ashes - Sid’s Classical Reviews


02 April 2016
Sid’s Classical Reviews
Sid Nuncius
5 Stars

Simply superb.

This is quite brilliant. Magnificat are one of the finest ensembles performing Renaissance music today, and this is a recording to stand with their very best, I think.

This is a collection of works based around the last meditations of Savonorola, who was put to death in 1498 for heresy and from whose fate the title of this set is taken. They are therefore somewhat solemn and sombre works, but they also often have a deep, meditative beauty about them. The collection begins and ends with two of the very greatest works of the 16th Century: Josquin's setting of Miserere mei, Deus from the very beginning of the century, and Byrd's Infelix ego from its very end. In between there is a collection of far less well-known settings, all of which are very fine; it's an excellent, well thought-out programme.

Magnificat sing it superbly. Philip Cave has gathered a choir of truly excellent singers (you only have to see names like Sally Dunkley, Caroline Trevor, Stephen Harrold and others to know you're in the best possible hands) and with them has crafted performances of exceptional depth and beauty. Technically they are impeccable, of course, and they bring both clarity and emotional engagement to every phrase. There is excellent balance and blend, a lovely fluency of line and a real sense of engagement with what they are singing. I have several dearly loved recordings of Josquin's Miserere mei, Deus by great ensembles including The Hilliard Ensemble and Cinquecento, and this stands with the best of them. Magnificat judge it perfectly so that it flows beautifully and has immense emotional intensity without ever getting bogged down, and the same can be said of every piece on these discs. It's a wonderful recording.

Linn's recorded sound is, of course, superb. The notes are very full and extremely interesting and the presentation is very attractive. This is, in short, a great set all round and very warmly recommended indeed.


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