The Chants of Angels – Gloriæ Dei Cantores Schola – Gloria Dei Cantores multichannel SACD 051, 59:14 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****:
I am so happy that the Cantores have embraced audiophile surround sound as it adds a whole new dimension to their already generally superb recorded legacy. To do so with Gregorian chant might seem to some superfluous—after all, what possible advantage could surround sound add to monophonic music, in this case not even sound with special spatial characteristics? Plenty! Those who continue to pooh-pooh the notion of multichannel for smaller ensembles or single instruments have just not been listening carefully. The voices on this recording infiltrate the room, flooding it with an inescapable beauty that envelops the ears and transports the senses. This is what the technology is capable of, and those who don’t believe should listen to this excellent disc and get with the program.
And it is a beautifully conceived package, as all of Gloriæ Dei Cantores programs are. This one concentrates on liturgical music (mostly taken from the feast of St. Michael and the Angels) having to do with the beneficent presence of angels in the spiritual life, culled from liturgy, offices, the Gospel, and the psalms. The full texts and translations, along with little blurbs to guide us along the journey, are tasteful in the extreme and colorfully done in a premium presentation effort.
Those seeking “authenticity” will be disappointed, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out. These works are given by men, women, and sometimes both antiphonally, and of course there is little evidence they were ever done like this (men only, women need not apply, except in a convent), but in today’s churches—when Gregorian chant is ever done, and most likely that is a rare occasion—you would conceivably hear a mixed group like this, and that is all to the good. This chant was never designed to be a museum piece strangulated by antiquated cultural performance practices, but a living expression of a living and vibrant faith, and one hears this in every syllable of the Cantores’ singing. Gregorian chant in the 21st century will be done differently, and when given in such a reverent and soul-soothing manner like here, there simply is nothing to complain about.
A lesser known jazz pioneer gets a re-mastered vinyl upgrade.