By now The King's Singers certainly can record almost anything they want, and this program, focusing on repertoire from the 'Golden Age' of Spanish, Portuguese, and Mexican vocal music, grew organically from the group's church concerts. The result is a collection of rarely-heard primarily polyphonic works from the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, most notably several settings of the text Versa est in luctum (from the Book of Job) and two remarkable and substantial works by Alonso Lobo--Lamentations and Libera me--both notable for their rich textures and vibrant, often surprising harmonies that these six singers exploit to the fullest. The opening work, Crux fidelis, from King John IV of Portugal (1604-56), is an exquisitely crafted hymn that captivates with its gorgeous harmonies interspersed with verses of plainchant. Here all aspects of the singers' impeccable diction, phrasing, blend, balance, and expressive nuance are on display, absolutely clear and with pleasing, natural presence (engineer Mike Hatch, a veteran of so many first rate vocal recordings, also must receive at least some of the credit for this!)
In other hands, a program focusing on sacred music with sombre themes--lamentations, mourning, sorrow, fasting and tears, deliverance from everlasting death--might be doomed before it began; but The King's Singers as usual bring a freshness and vitality to their vocalism and a warm, welcoming quality to their sound that projects a certain 'personality' that not only makes listening easy, but brings substantial rewards as well. No one who enjoys this repertoire or The King's Singers needs further encouragement; and it's always a pleasure to be reminded of or introduced so favorably to composers such as Alonso Lobo. Highly recommended!