Ensemble Organum - Compostela

Published Saturday 29th December 2018
Ensemble Organum - Compostela
Ensemble Organum - Compostela

STYLE: Choral
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 174319-28184
LABEL: Harmonia Mundi HMO890530

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

This CD takes us on a journey. We travel in time back to 2004 when the album was first released and then continue all the way back to the ninth century. Also we join the countless pilgrims en route to the popular sanctuary of St James at Santiago de Compostela in North West Spain. With Marcel Pérès as our trusty guide we hear some of the music sung during services in honour of the saint. His source is the 12th century Codex Calixinus, preserved at the Cathedral of Santiago and with its aid Pérès reconstructs what may have been heard by the pilgrims. We open with a robust "Hymnus Peregrinorum: Dum Pater Familias" that may have been sung by the pilgrims as they toiled towards their destination and then we enter the cathedral where the monks take over with a series of Antiphons and Psalms. It has rightly been observed that the past is a foreign country and their music back then is very different to what we expect to hear in worship today. Not necessarily better or worse but clearly different. My brief review is that listeners who enjoy ancient chant will find this collection one of the best and those that find one chant much the same as any other should make their excuses and leave. As background music I found this pleasant enough but when I tried to concentrate I am afraid that my attention kept sliding. The singing and audio quality are both first rate and the liner notes illuminating although I would have appreciated the texts and - especially - translations as my limited Latin was sufficient to get a rough idea of what was going on. One for the specialists but general listeners with a taste for exploring in time and space may enjoy the journey too.

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