Magazine article Gramophone

Poulenc

Magazine article Gramophone

Poulenc

Article excerpt

Poulenc

Ave verum corpus. Litanies a la Vierge Noire. Mass. Quatre motets pour le temps de Noel. Quatre motets pour un temps de penitence. Salve regina. Un soir de nelge

The Sixteen / Harry Christophers Coro (F) COR16149 (65' * DDD * T/t)

Any new recording from The Sixteen is going to be well worth hearing. It almost goes without saying that the singing will be of a technical standard beyond reproach, while Harry Christophers's innate musicianship will ensure a performance of supreme artistic worth. This latest release does not disappoint. This is a sumptuous recording of flawless singing and intense music-making.

However, while this is a truly exquisite piece of choral singing, it almost seems too perfect. It's as if Poulenc's directness of expression and raw emotional impulses are filtered through a thick, highly polished veneer. In short, it misses the honesty and openness that are such potent features in the recent recordings from the Netherlands Chamber Choir and Tenebrae.

Despite the wonderfully vivid organ colours Robert Quinney adds to Litanies a la Vierge Noire, The Sixteen sound too comfortable and self-assured. Their singing of the Motets pour le temps du Noel is certainly unutterably lovely, yet at times it feels almost over-sung--the clarity of detail in 'Quem vidistis pastores' verges on the musically pretentious--and the warm, sultry tone they exude in Un soir de neige seems to look at Poulenc's desolate winter landscapes as if through a window while seated in front of a roaring log fire. …

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