Stile Antico promo photo 1
Marco Borggreve
Classics Today France awards Media Vita another 10/10
Warning: masterpiece! A big thank-you, first, to Harmonia Mundi USA, who haven't abandoned the SACD. This process... offers a sublime setting for the polyphony of John Sheppard. I've rarely heard a multichannel SACD as well-judged and tasteful in its placing of voices within a reverberant space. On the level of sound alone, this recording will be, for those with the right equipment, a marvellous journey. On the subject of taste and class, the other great surprise is the quality of this English ensemble, Stile Antico, which has none of the quirks of English groups; the tenors don't sound tight, the sopranos don't place their top notes as if on a level.

Following the example of the best Flemish groups (one thinks of Paul van Nevel), Stile Antico cultivates flexibility, individualisation within an overall fusion. This difficult skill isn't easy to come by, and Harmonia Mundi has been very astute in securing the services of this top-flight ensemble.

Amongst the van Nevellian qualities of Stile Antico, is a natural fluidity well illustrated by their interpretations of The Lord's Prayer or I give you a new Commandment. The harmonic tension at the opening of Media Vita is admirable, without any voice piercing the canvas. The structure of this 25-minute tour de force is sustained in superlative manner, like an endlessly-long breath.

I far prefer the blended sound of Stile Antico and their more plangent tone to the less moreure and more immediate sound of the Tallis Scholars. A final word: the polyphony of John Sheppard easily matches that of Thomas Tallis. The disc is therefore just as important for its musical substance.

Christophe Huss, Classics Today France
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