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This disc is outstanding for the quality of its choral singing. The Leipzig vocal sextet Sjaella (meaning ‘soul’) is six young women whose bell-like tone, exceptional musicianship and interpretative skills are equally complemented by Ensemble Nobiles, five young men who were singers in St Thomas’s Boys Choir. They have joined forces in an unbeatable combination to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Hugo Distler’s death. The repertoire highlights a part of the composer’s sacred choral work, namely the Jahrkreis op.5 and the Geistliche Chormusik op.12, at the heart of which is the Totentanz depicting Death’s hold over all of us. Each spoken verse of the Totentanz is introduced by a motet, and Heinz-Martin Benecke gives a stirring performance as Death. Op.12 is a set of works for the liturgical year and op.5 a collection of two- and three-voice choral settings for church, school and lay choirs. The clarity and clean lines of Distler’s writing show great craftsmanship. This is a compelling CD.

SHIRLEY RATCLIFFE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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