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The 11 men of Cantar Lontano, directed by Marco Mencoboni in a world premiere recording of Ghiselin Dankerts’s Missa de Beata Virgine, offer a daringly grainy, forthright, characterful, extrovert, visceral and gloriously linear performance of this busy polyphony, suggestive of reading from part-books. With magnificent presence in huge acoustics and absolute immersion in the words, this is marvellous marmite. A more introverted approach might be deemed appropriate for St Matthew Passion by Lassus, but Musica Ficta directed by Bo Holten take this too far. The solo chant is fine but ensemble intonation and temperament are not always of the happiest, snatched breaths discomfort the ear and one looks in vain for passionate faith in this overly careful and cool interpretation. Passion aplenty graces four Pierre de la Rue Masses in world premiere recordings on two CDs from the male voice quartet Beauty Farm. Utter commitment, spinning wondrous lines and almost palpable sonorities with tremendous emotion, understanding, engagement and technical mastery, with some forgivable imperfections – it’s all recorded with impressive breadth in sublime acoustics.

REBECCA TAVENER Read the full review on Agora Classica

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