Saturday, January 30, 2010

Awards 2009: Medieval & Renaissance

"Song of Songs"
Stile Antico
Harmonia Mundi

This young British group received much praise for its first two albums, but this selection of Renaissance works nets them their first Nereffid's Guide Award (OK, I'll stop that kind of talk. This isn't the Oscars). The music here comprises works inspired by that book of the Old Testament which many scholars insist is an allegory of... well, anything except erotic poetry. Gramophone's Peter Quantrill suggested potential responses of composers to the texts: "sensuous melismas, perhaps, and anguished suspensions, surging bass-lines and... let us draw a veil there". Anthony Pryer in BBC Music was less circumspect, noting the "melting abandon" of Gombert's treatment of the line tibi dabo ubera mea. Look it up. But what of the performances? Pryer praised the album as "a magnificent display of the very best kind of polyphonic music".

Runners-up (in alphabetical order):
Dowland: "The Queen's Galliard" - Lute music volume 4. Nigel North [Naxos]
Lassus: Cantiones Sacrae. Collegium Vocale Gent/Philippe Herreweghe [Harmonia Mundi]
"Musical Banquet". Monika Mauch; Nigel North [ECM New Series]
Vaet: Missa Ego flos campi, etc. Cinquecento [Hyperion]

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