Best of the Year

* Hymn to the Virgin – Schola Cantorum/ Tone Bianca Sparre Dahl – 2L Pure Audio Blu-ray

************ MULTICHANNEL DISC OF THE MONTH ************* This release is unbelievably spectacular in any category you care to name.

Published on March 1, 2014

* Hymn to the Virgin – Schola Cantorum/ Tone Bianca Sparre Dahl – 2L Pure Audio Blu-ray

* Hymn to the Virgin [TrackList follows] – Schola Cantorum/ Tone Bianca Sparre Dahl – 2L Pure Audio Blu-ray DTS-HD MA 192k/24-bit 5.0 + multichannel SACD MCH 5.0 DSD 2L-095 (2 discs), 62:20 [Distr. by Naxos] *****:

This is an outstanding album of devotional music centered on the Virgin Mary. As you can see in the track listing, the selections are both catholic and wide-ranging in their appeal and style. Just a cursory glance will show that there are many selections here which are standards of the trade, and a few new ones as well. All performances are top grade; as good as I have ever heard any of them done on record, with the sensational Schola Cantorum performing at an exceptionally high level, solid vocalizing in each section with a control and balance that must be the envy of many choral groups around the world.

This album was nominated for a Grammy in the “Best Engineering” category, and it is easy to see why. Two discs are offered, a high quality Blu-ray Pure Audio disc, and a multichannel SACD, each also containing a standard stereo option as in all hybrid SACDs now. As is usually the case in my experience, the SACD presents a little warmer soundstage with a definite increase in breadth, though the Blu-ray is also superb, both discs making use of the rear speakers with almost equal strength (the notes say that there is a -10dB level decrease in the rear). I cannot recommend this set highly enough, spectacular music—and I cannot emphasize this enough—with marvelous performances in state-of-the-art sound in two different formats. Mandatory. Period.

TrackList:

1 Benjamin Britten: A Hymn to the Virgin
2 Francis Poulenc: Salve Regina
3 Maurice Duruflé: Ubi caritas
4 Eric Whitacre: Lux aurumque
5 Morten Lauridsen: O nata lux
6 Martin Ødegaard: Komm
7 Kjell Mørk Karlsen: O Magnum Mysterium
8 Anton Bruckner: Ave Maria
9 Sergei Rachmaninoff: Bogoróditse Dévo
10 Arvo Pärt: Bogoróditse Dévo
11 Ola Gjeilo: Tota pulchra es
12 Andrew Smith: Pulchra es tu Maria
13 Andrew Smith: Stabat Mater
14 Trond Kverno: Stabat Mater Dolorosa

—Steven Ritter




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