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This musical and spiritual journey begins with the opening chords of John Cooke’s Stella celi extirpevit as the male voices of the Binchois Consort present The Lily & the Rose an anthology of late medieval Marian adorations ‘in sound and stone’, including works by Dunstaple, Frye and lesser-known composers. Exceptional moments of emotional intensity bloom within refined, expert, lofty singing of polyphony and chant in frigid acoustics. On the subject of difficult acoustics overcome, trebles on top burnish a sparklingly numinous patina William Mundy: Sacred Choral Music from the Choir of St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh. Duncan Ferguson moulds fervent interpretations from both choir and solo ensembles, with lovely long lines, commitment, and a spiritual freshness. Here is febrile musical evangelism for Mary Tudor’s Roman Catholic revival, including some premiere recordings, captured with magnificent clarity and acoustic bloom. This disc culminates with Mundy’s collaboration with Byrd, so here’s the great man himself, sung by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, in a disc of 19 Byrd Motets exploring the liturgical year. Into their vast acoustics they hurl powerful, driven, colourful interpretations with a galvanised vocal presence that some may find combative.

REBECCA TAVENER Read the full review on Agora Classica


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