We are already fortunate in having many of the world's famous and long-established choral groups, but the young newcomers, Stile Antico, is arguably the finest this country has produced... Seemingly everything they perform is elevated to a new level of perfection... Read More...
— David Denton,
This disc contains some of the most stunning beautiful and moving choral singing I have ever heard. The tone is warm, with flawless blend and ensemble. More important, these are coherent and engaging performances that never lose their way in technical thickets... Read More...
American Record Guide
Whether the music be simple or complex, Stile Antico have the measure of it. Excellent! Read More...
— Richard Lawrence,
Classic FM Magazine awards Media Vita *****
English composer John Sheppard (c.1515-1558) worked at the Chapel Royal around the same time as Tallis, but little detail of his life is known. What makes his music so striking is the complex yet transparent lines of his vocal writing and the tangy clashes and 'false relations' he uses in his harmony. It's quite a revelation, especially when sung with such unerring strength and clarity as it is here by the 14-part vocal ensemble Stile Antico. From the relative simplicity of English word-settings such as The Lord's Prayer to the grand, Latin architecture of the 25-minute Media Vita, this is awe-inspiringly beautiful music, gloriously performed.
Classic FM Magazine
Yorkshire Post reviews Media Vita
It has taken an age for the Tudor composer, John Sheppard, to emerge from the shadow of Thomas Tallis, but his distinctive art and craft is now universally admired. Some credit for that must go to British chamber choirs like Stile Antico, a 14-voice ensemble of impeccable technique. The recording is dominated by the large motet, Media Vita ("in the midst of life we are in death") a performance of sustained concentration and beauty. It is also good to hear some English motets again, fresh in delivery, powerful in impact.
The lines follow each other, intersect, intertwine, and finally unite with infinite grace; the swirling of the hymns give birth to a sense of eternity, and the harmonies seem to touch the absolute. To listen to the purity and beauty of the voices of this young English choir, no-one could believe that man could be evil. Read More...
— Gérard Pangon,
The ensemble distinguishes naturally between the decorative profusion in the Latin prayers and the vigorous clarity of the anthems... But Stile Antico, with their qualities of blend, true intonation and precision, also know how to vary the expression according to the text, from Marian devotion to grave meditation... Read More...
— Philippe Venturini,
Media Vita praised in the St. Louis Post Dispatch
I was blown away by the happy surprise of this near-flawless recording of choral music by the too-little-known Tudor-era composer John Sheppard. Stile Antico is a remarkable group of 14 young British singers who sing with style, blend, intelligence and clarity: the music here is gorgeous, and so is the music-making. The centerpiece in this cleanly made recording is the title anthem, a monumental setting (at close to 30 minutes long) of the Nunc dimittis that ranks as one of the greatest pieces of choral writing in its era. There is not, however, a wasted note on the entire disc. Stile Antico, which won a Grammy in 2009, shows by this effort that the group has staying power. I look forward to hearing the rest of their oeuvre.
— Sarah Bryan Miller,
St. Louis Post Dispatch
It is a pleasure to once again hear the fourth recording of the most remarkable group of the last few years. For, the rigorous involvement of Stile Antico is absolutely unique, as is the perfection of intonation one can hear on each page... A pleasure you will want to taste more than once... Read More...
— Jean-Jacques Millo, trans. Lawrence Schulman,
Opus Haute Définition
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. Read More...
— Christophe Huss,
Classics Today France
Philadelphia Inquirer reviews Media Vita
The 14-voice Stile Antico continues to set new standards for Renaissance polyphonic singing in this disc devoted to the 16th-century John Sheppard, whose music not only has the devout mellifluousness characteristic of the period's liturgical music, but also strange dissonances that recur, like stones in a shoe, in almost every work. The fact that one can even hear them is evidence of Stile Antico's quality: The balance of vocal blend and individual voices takes you deep inside the music, helped by the fact that the group seems not to come to the music with any preconceived idea of what it should sound like. Thus, it sounds like itself, with all of its shifting textures and sublime logic that find the most ingenious resolutions for the most irrational dissonances.
— David Patrick Stearns,
Diario de Sevilla (Spain) on Media Vita
John Sheppard (c.1515-1558) is known today primarily for his great antiphon Media vita in morte sumus, which is the principal reason for this new offering of the young group Stile Antico, a vocal group of the moment. The monumental nature of the Media vita responsory shines beside the Gaude Maria, a Te Deum and some English hymns, thanks to some interpretations of extreme brilliance, with a round and powerful sound, remarkable transparency and substantial variety of colour. Typical British sound, but with a deep emotional charge.
— Pablo J. Vayón,
Diario de Sevilla
Unforced pacing, sensitive phrasing and wonderfully clear textures... Stile Antico's enthusiastic delivery of this technically difficult piece is all the more impressive for its assurance and polish... Read More...
— Christopher Price,
International Record Review
Remarkable technique and a perfection of intonation typical of the English choral school, alongside a presence and warmth of timbre and texture which equals today's finest Franco-Flemish ensembles. To add to that tantalizing portrait, these young singers work without director, each bringing their personality and ideas to the ensemble. The result is an unmatched clarity and transparency, in which no voice is trivial or neglected. Read More...
— Jeremie Noyer,
The performances here are uniformly excellent, celebrating not only the richness and diversity of Sheppard's harmonic structures, but delighting in the sheer momentum of his often relentless, unceasingly unfolding lines and sometimes clashing colors... Let's hope that this will not be Stile Antico's last foray into this repertoire - but whatever the group does next, we'll be listening. Highly recommended. Read More...
— David Vernier,
A near-miracle of breath control, rhythmical but not metrical lines and transparency of texture, coupled with hypnotic ebb and flow of dynamics... a significant milestone on Sheppard's journey to modern recognition for his considerable talents, offering many beauties and evoking its period with considerable emotional force. Read More...
— John Miller,
The real kick-off for Kings Place's Swingle-sponsored a cappella festival was the brilliant young Stile Antico ensemble... The sound was muscular, balanced, and completely vibrato-free, the musicianship impeccable... Read More...
— Michael Church,
The first half of the programme ended with John Sheppard's 25-minute Media vita... It's a wonderfully concentrated work and the young, sappy voices of Stile Antico, blended with the skill of a great winemaker, got it across it magnificently. Read More...
— James Jolly,
High praise in The Observer for Media Vita
This recording of works by Tudor composer John Sheppard (1515-1558) is the fourth disc by young British ensemble Stile Antico, and the best yet. Their purity of sound, with a fullness achieved by only 14 voices, reveals Sheppard's rich counterpoint. Despite this extraordinary finesse there's no self-conscious beauty, only intelligent, vital simplicity. Sheppard is one of the more mysterious of "English Renaissance" composers. The meditative, 25-minute central work, "Media Vita" ("In the midst of life we are in death"), dark with agonising dissonances, is a heartfelt quest for consolation, and a formidable masterpiece.
— Fiona Maddocks,
Media Vita receives its first review in the Independent
It is more than 20 years since the Tallis Scholars recorded Media Vita and though their performance remains peerless, Stile Antico's recording has many attractive qualities. The first of these is a very lovely alto blend, which remains a constant in a programme that contrasts Sheppard's ecstatic Latin polyphony with the quiet simplicity of his English motets. "I Give You a New Commandment" is similar in subject and style to Tallis's "If Ye Love Me", while "The Lord's Prayer" is one of the finest I've heard.
— Anna Picard,