Em Marshall
MusicWeb International
September 2009

This is an attractive disc from Collegium Records with John Rutter, the Cambridge Singers and Nuova Music. It presents European Renaissance and Baroque music composed for the church at the time of the Reformation—a period of far-reaching religious change, which saw church music burgeon with many highly talented composers expressing their faith through their great compositions. It was also a time when secular styles were beginning to be cultivated and more incorporated into traditional church music, thus leading to the production of works of even greater beauty, originality and excitement.

The disc opens with Gabrieli’s Jubilate Deo and features works by a range of composers, from Monteverdi and Orlando de Lassus through to Thomas Luis de Victoria, Hassler and Schutz. Many of the pieces will be familiar to listeners, such as Monteverdi’s well-known Beatus Vir and Josquin’s justly loved motet Ave Maria, which is here sung with a wonderful sense of peace and contentment, and a glowing tranquility. The disc also includes Palestrina’s Exultate Deo, with its brilliant word-painting, Anerio’s somber and beautiful Christus Factus Est, Gesualdo’s dramatic O Vos Omnes, Sweelinck’s colourful and lively Laudate Dominum, Buxtehude’s Magnificat (though his authorship of this work is dubious) and Crux Fidelis—whose attribution to John IV, King of Portugal is, again, uncertain. The disc concludes with Bach’s motet, O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht, a glorious ending to an excellent disc, full of interest and diversity.

The Cambridge Singers were founded by John Rutter to facilitate recordings of choral works from mediaeval and renaissance times to the present day. They are here joined by the Nuova Music, an early music ensemble under the proficient direction of the counter-tenor David Bates. Together, they produce radiant performances, with confident and assured singing and sensitive, sympathetic accompaniment.