FLAMENCO: Spanish flamenco is full of powerful feelings set in an exactingly stringent rhythmical structure. The guitar always touches the listener with the force of old recognition, and there is of course much of what I would call gypsy blues in its sound (blues understood as a universally human expression of feeling).
In the Catholic Church, it is especially the Benedictine
monks and nuns, who traditionally express their faith musically.
For example it has been the Benedictine monks from Chevetogne, in Belgium,
who taught us to appreciate the
fine chanting traditions of the Orthodox (Slavonian)Church.
SOLESMES: Gregorian Chant. The monks from Solesmes sing
with a depth of devotion, as if with one voice, surrounding the
listener with that special sense of rest and tranquillity that
both body and soul always look for. Many titles (see our general
catalogue) - one is a Selection of their Best. Among others
is the beautiful Easter Mass, which is one of the oldest
in the Gregorian tradition (no longer available) 169.-
ST.CECILIA: The nuns from this monastery sing Gregorian chants with a heartfelt gentleness, their voices expressing uplifting peace. Many titles(see our general catalogue), we recommend among others Ave Maria. 179.-
CHEVETOGNE: The Belgian monks from Chevetogne, as we mentioned above, are best known for their chanting of the Orthodox liturgy (i.e. of the Eastern Church). There are many titles, but perhaps especially Chants de la Liturgie Slavonne can be recommended. Their voices have a certain depth of feeling and resonance that one recognizes from many Russian recordings. The uplifting harmonic richness absorbs body and soul, to give a deep peace and calm 159-179.-
BYZANTINE CHANTS: Only on tape, but a fine recording, particularly
remarkable on the side where the high, clear voices of the choir
of Greek nuns are heard together with the deep voice of the priest,
as if encompassing him (no longer available). 99.-
ANUNA is a group of young singers and musicians, who present twelve centuries of Celtic music in quite unusual ways. They combine the new and the old, Gregorian Chant with shamanist drumming, popular and spiritual music - with beautiful harmony and the distinctive sound of the Celtic voice pervasively colouring all that they do. 169.-
HILDEGARD VON BINGEN:
SEQUENTIA, The Ensemble for Medieval Music. On Symphoniae: Spiritual Songs they play and sing simple songs composed by Hildegard. These are early eulogies, to Mary, and to other of the great women of the Christian tradition. Barbara Thornton's clear voice is beautiful, the harmonising of the choir extremely refined, the music all in all is magnificent. This recording is one of the very best we've heard in this genre. Canticles of Ecstasy is the choir's next-to-last Hildegard production, and latest to be released is the very fine CD, Voice of the Blood, with Hildegards texts about Saint Ursula of Cologne and her youthful followers, which quickly became a favourite at Numen. 169.-
Sequentia's recording of Ordo Virtutum, a Morality Play, is, like Symphoniae, a special experience, an essential expereince for all lovers of Hildegard's music. doubleCD 325.-
HEAVENLY REVELATIONS, also with songs of Hildegard von Bingen, sung by the Oxford Camerata (a choir with both male and female singers), has a delicate, etheric sound, that holds our consciousness, and lifts it. Special price CD 119.-
HAIL! QUEEN OF HEAVEN - previously called AVE GRACIA PLENA, Music in Honour of the Virgin Mary, has the music of many composers through the ages - from Gregorian Chant, through the Renaissance, and up to modern times. This recording of the Cambridge Singers projects the beautiful atmosphere of Eli Cathedral, as the choir creates a sense of wholeness in the songs, that alternates between the solemn and grandiose, the peaceful and unassumingle simple. 169.-
HENRYK MIKOLAJ GORECKI's modern masterpiece, The Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. Inspired by experiences as a child during the Second World War, this song and music has a slowly powerful rhythm, a rhythm kindled by the heart, that carries the listener on a monumental, cleansing human journey. A very special experience. 159.-
ARVO PÄRT is another of the modern East European composers, whose work demands the deepest respect. Music of strict simplicity, harmonic clarity and balance. Of masterfully controlled emotional depth and of high spiritual beauty. And, in turning inward with him, the listener is easily drawn into his world.
Tabula Rasa is perhaps, originally, his most well-known title. In Fratres, for example, one can follow a fascinating meeting between two brothers (Keith Jarrett on piano and Gidon Kremer on violin). And, in fact, the whole record is filled with remarkable experiences and new discoveries - in the music, but also in oneself.
Arbos, Miserere and Passio are all titles we can recommend, each in its own way. Te Deum from 1993 is marked by choir music that again demonstrates Arvo Pärt's masterly control over his musical expression, and his fine spiritual feeling, which, together, create a sense of spiritual well-being in the listener. His latest, Litany, from 1996, is performed by the choir of the Hilliard Ensemble, as well as two different chamber orchestras from his homeland, Estonia. Once more a recording filled with a rare, high energy, and one that is well worth spending time with. All titles 169.-
NOIRIN NI RIAIN: She used to be a jazz singer, but experienced a spiritual calling, and here she is heard together with the monks from Glenstal Abbey, also from Ireland. Her pure, high voice conveys a tranquility and clearness of emotionality, as always when one is filled with sensitivity and wonder, when in close proximity to something beautiful. Order either Caoineadh na Maighdine, which is most uniform in structure, or our favourite, Vox de Nube, which is somewhat more varied. The latter reaches quite unusual heights of fine feeling in some of the songs, but includes also a couple of beautifully recited secular Irish poems. There are also two newer recordings, Soundings (Spiritual Songs from Many traditions), with an Irish string orchestra backing her lovely voice, and Stor Amhran (Mystical Irish Songs), with an organ. Both contain mixtures of old folk and religious songs. 169.-
RACHMANINOV, SERGEI: His compositions for church choirs are unfortunately almost unknown. These recordings are not easily available, but they're well worth saving up for, when we have them. They are masterful, and in a special Russian way, filled with deep devotion. Quietness pervaded by a sense of power, an harmonic, almost physical texture, that is like a massage for the soul. One could say that they give an experience of groundedness, at the same time as they touch the heart and our higher feelings deeply.
St. Petersburg Capella sings The Vespers. 169.-
And his matchless Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom: The choir: The Russian State Symphony Capella, dir. Valery Polyansky. This is best recording of this work available to us. 2CD Price ?