CD and Other Review

Review: Lux (Voces8)

★★★☆☆ The most recent release from British choral ensemble Voces8 is a catalogue of shimmering music centring on the theme of light. The eight-piece group is flawless, and their radiant timbre doesn’t let the disc’s title down one bit. Their shining tone and technique make for joyful, peaceful listening, and the acoustics – Dore Abbey and St Michael’s, Highgate – help polish the already stunning performance. The 15 tracks traverse centuries of music, from Renaissance masters such as Tallis to contemporary composers like Lauridsen and Ešenvalds. There’s even pop crossover in arrangements of Ben Folds and Massive Attack. It’s an album of unashamedly beautiful music intended for reflection and relaxation and on that level it works. But while thought has clearly gone into the curation, the result has missed the mark. The pop arrangements don’t come off that convincingly, and feel slightly sacrilegious when heard a track or two away from Allegri’s sublime Miserere (which does sound gorgeous). And Thomas Tallis with saxophone and a vocal arrangement of Elgar’s famous Nimrod from his Enigma Variations will probably irk the purists.  Ultimately this disc’s appeal lies in its beauty of sound, and for this reason I’d gladly have it on while…

July 8, 2015
CD and Other Review

Review: Eventide (Voces8)

While I’m no great fan of “chill” albums, I’m a great fan of good choral singing. Thankfully, Eventide not only features some of the finest choral singing you’ll here anywhere; as far as chill albums go, it’s one of the best I’ve heard (and having worked in a suburban CD store for some years, I’ve heard a lot). Young UK choral outfit Voces8 (for those of you whose school Latin is a bit rusty, voces is the plural of vox – “voice”; the “8” is for the group’s eight singers) has been around since 2003 but this is its debut for the prestigious Decca label, surely a coup for any young choir. The repertoire is unashamedly chillax and features straight classical works by Tallis, Bruckner, Britten, Lauridsen et al, albeit sometimes in arrangement, as well as vaguely crossover items such as Karl Jenkins’ Benedictus and film music such as Hymn to the Fallen by John Williams from Saving Private Ryan. There are also world premiere recordings such as Ola Gjeilo’s Second Eve, which was commissioned by Voces8. Many of the items feature solo instrumental accompaniment courtesy of Christian Forshaw’s saxophone, Matthew Sharpe’s cello and Lavinia Meijer’s harp; Tallis’ Te lucis ante…

April 22, 2014