SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews
“Reges Terrae: Music from the Time of Charles V” = Works of MANCHCOURT, MORALES, CLEMENS NON PAPA, GUERRERO, GOMBERT – Nordic Voices – Chandos
Published on December 12, 2007
I think that Chandos has finally hit its stride with DSD/SACD. The company was once noted for its charitably-called “distant” or “middle row” recordings that actually let a lot of detail float by while pretending to offer us all more natural and normal acoustic perspective. Those days seem to have passed, and I must say that their SA recordings are displaying a new vibrancy and wonderfully apt sonic resonance that is far superior to what used to fall off the presses. The six-voiced angelic singing of the Nordic Voices is some of the most delectable sound around today, and the Ringsaker Church of Hedmark, Norway, provides a perfect venue for this program.
Charles the V was Holy Roman Emperor from 1519 to his abdication in 1556. Flemish by birth, his was a cosmopolitan upbringing that enabled him to speak five languages and understand Europe in a very comprehensive manner. Most of his time was spent fighting with France or the Ottomans, and particularly negating the effects of the Protestants of the Empire who would not support his Turkish adventures. He died two years after abdication, after having retired to a monastery.
This disc attempts to show us the beauties of the reign of this most devout emperor, whose patronage of the arts was second to no one, and whose court was inundated with brilliant artists and musicians from all over. Most of the composers on this disc, some of the finest alive at the time, were in one way or the other connected with this illustrious and in many ways flamboyant court.
The music here is all exceptional, pious in the best sense of the word, and ingratiating on the ears no matter what type of music you may prefer. Though most of it will not bring back memories of royal splendor but instead simply remind one of the particular beauties of superbly-crafted church music of the era, it is instructive to compare the rich writing of Morales with the more youthful exuberance of Pierre de Manchicourt, and imagine all of these riches being sung at one imperial court. And excellent concept then, but only made so by the expressive and warm nature of these readings.
– Steven Ritter