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Here’s another British choir whose name you might not know: The Erebus Ensemble – Live at the Clifton Festival is an anthology largely of concert audience-pleasers. Sections of Masses by Palestrina and Tye, motets by Sheppard and Josquin’s pupil L’Héritier, plus a couple of brief works each by Arvo Pärt and John Tavener, do not a very coherent programme make, probably because it’s a sampler of seven years of live performance. It’s uneven: youthful vim and vigour can prompt competitive over-singing from the lower voices, creating issues with blend and balance. The stretches of fine solo ensemble singing in the Tye are a high point in a showcase that may encourage them to develop greater sophistication. Speaking of ‘high’, they include Allegri’s Miserere in its predictable format – if you are interested in a more historically informed approach, however, listen to The Call of Rome. The Sixteen place Allegri’s warhorse and Victoria’s Tenebrae Responsories for Holy Saturday alongside Marian works by Josquin and F. Anerio. At first glance it may seem as though they raided their back-catalogue for this anthology, but no: this is all fresh, and the only track not specially recorded is ‘[Allegri’s] Miserere – its evolution’ (2012) which explores how the simple psalm-tone might have been embellished over time into the romantic version much revered today. A sacred siren-song for the Eternal City, how canny The Sixteen and Coro are to exploit the marketing opportunities gained from their association with the Sistine Chapel.

REBECCA TAVENER Read the full review on Agora Classica


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