Friday, 4 December 2015

Palestrina - Canticum Canticorum - Pro Cantione Antiqua/Turner

Rating: 3/5

Showing its age

This recording, like some other classic Pro Cantione Aniqua recordings, is beginning to show its age, I'm afraid.  They were a fine ensemble and Bruno Turner did a huge amount for early music, but performance practice has developed enormously in the two decades since this was made. This is now, for me at least, an historically interesting disc but not one I play very often now.

The music itself is fabulous.  These are Palestrina's settings of verses from the Song Of Solomon - celebrations of erotic love whose sense is beautifully evoked in Palestrina's music.  However, the approach of Pro Cantions Antiqua doesn't really reflect this – there is no real blend of voices and very little of the feel of Palestrina's sensual writing comes through.  The balance is reasonably good, but the vibrato in the voices rather wrecks the beauty of Palestrina's wonderful textures.  Emotionally, this does nothing for me, really.

I'm sorry to be so critical of a fine, pioneering ensemble, but as a recording I don't think this holds up well.  There are other fine recordings now – notably for me by The Hilliard Ensemble [[ASIN:B00008Y17C Palestrina: Canticum Canticorum]] – and I can't really recommend this in comparison.

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