GDCD, 72:28 (Distrib. Paraclete Press 1-800-451-5006) ****:
This devotional album reissues materials recorded 1991-1999 from Methuen Memorial Music Hall and Mechanics Hall, Worcester, MA. The ensemble Gloriae Dei Cantores celebrates choral masterpieces from the 11th to the 21st Century, a cappella and accompanied by bells, trumpets, organ, and assorted instruments and percussion. The disc opens with a poignantly transparent rendition of Palestrina’s Super flumina Babylonis and proceeds a cappella for several cuts.
Leo Sowerby’s Come, Holy Ghost caught my undivided attention with its organ pedal, as did Georgy Svirdov’s Bogoroditse Devo (Rejoice, O Virgin), which for my money rivals the distinctive sound of the Don Cossack Choir. Svirdov’s Liubov‚ sviataya (Sacred Love) with solo soprano is as otherworldly as it is beautiful. The last of the Svirdov triptych, Pokayannly stih (Hymn of Repentance), swells in power yet remains spiritually serene. A loving sotto voce opens Tchaikovsky’s Angel vopiyashe (The Angel Cried), and tenderness reigns throughout its brief incantation. William Mathias‚ Angelus is a song of The Annunciation; featuring a solo piano obbligato, its simplicity casts a spell similar to what Orff achieves in the Carmina Burana.
Lovely diction for the two Brahms entries, the four-square, canonic Es ist das Heil uns kommen Her, Op. 29, No. 1 and the impatient plea of O Heiland reiss die Himmel auf, Op. 74, No. 2. Nanino’s Adoremus te’ Christe communicates a spacious elegance, a motet of alluring charm. Otche Nash by Kedrov, Sr., which concludes the disc, opens with a deep bass intonation, and is a simple Our Father begging that we be found worthy of our divine origins. Add to this illustrious music Rheinberger’s Anima nostra, Op. 133, a tiny moment of redemption, our souls having been delivered from the clutches of earthly snares. A very classy gift to oneself, this fine disc.
— Gary Lemco