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This searingly beautiful album is the first installment of a new recording project by Contrapunctus reconstructing and exploring repertoire from the famous Baldwin Partbooks, an important preserve of Latin-texted music spanning several generations of Tudor composers. Each album will explore a different religious theme: in this present case, mortality. Happily, such themes provide a structure through which to hear lesser-known works alongside those now firmly established in the early music ‘canon’. For instance, this disc contains both John Sheppard’s well-known and vast antiphon ‘Media Vita’, and Dericke Gerarde’s delightful but lesser-known ‘Sive vigilem’, both wonderfully expressive settings.

Throughout the disc, Contrapunctus offer some of the most unreservedly beautiful performances of Tudor polyphony of recent years with a near-perfect blend of young, flexible voices at the peak of their powers. I particularly appreciate the firm anchoring flow of the lower voices and the eager polyphonic momentum generated by the sprightly upper-voices. Yet considering the wide range of polyphonic styles covered, it is surprising that Contrapunctus opt for a similar intimate, nuanced sound throughout. The results are expressive, but contained. ‘Media vita’, in particular, is rather too sepia-tinted for my tastes. I prefer a more demonstrative performance style for larger-scale works.

Edward Breen Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2015 - ©Rhinegold Publishing