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As Matthew O’Donovan points out in his booklet notes, private music-making in Tudor and Jacobean England was far more distinguished than is often remembered; thus, this ‘re-domestication’ by Stile Antico (with exquisite playing from Fretwork) of works more usually heard in church is very welcome indeed. The group’s singing is, as ever, breathtakingly beautiful: the moving simplicity of Amner’s A stranger here and the pearl that is Campion’s Never weather-beaten sail. In other places though, I wonder if recording in a ‘secular’ studio – rather than the churches which have been Stile Antico’s usual haunts – has hindered them slightly. Some of the longer works feel a touch relentless in places, with not enough time given for cadences to unfold unhurriedly, a problem which I suspect might not have occurred in an acoustic in which the singers could enjoy a more natural decay of sound.

Adrian Horsewood Read the full review on Agora Classica


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