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Here are two very different treatments of the Psalm texts – first in German and Hebrew from the Jewish tradition, second using the 17th-century English of the Book of Common Prayer and firmly rooted in the Anglican choral tradition. Each informs the other.

The Netherlands Chamber Choir’s clinical yet expressive ensemble lends itself to four contrasting styles of music. The romantic German settings of Mendelssohn contrast with the Monteverdi-like Venetian sounds of Salamone Rossi (it is a culture shock to hear renaissance polyphony setting Hebrew words, but the ear becomes quickly accustomed). The 19th and 20th centuries feature in beautiful arrangements; Schoenberg’s dramatic interpretation of De Profundis is particularly arresting. The disc ends with Cantor Gilad Nezer’s own arrangement.

Next, to Salisbury Cathedral for a sublime Wesley chant which opens the disc, showing off Salisbury’s Willis organ in accompaniment, the choir chanting half verses antiphonally. The trebles possess an unforced and natural sound and the whole choir has clean phrasing throughout. David Halls’s interpretation always places the music at the service of the words; Daniel Cook’s playing is at once sensitive and dramatic. Here are plenty of chants listeners are likely to enjoy for the first time.

MATTHEW POWER Read the full review on Agora Classica


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