Palestrina, The Cambridge Singers - The Song Of Songs

Wednesday 1st June 1994
Palestrina, The Cambridge Singers - The Song Of Songs

STYLE: Classical
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: Collegium 122

Reviewed by John Irvine

This year marks the 400th anniversary of Palestrina's death, so you can expect a flood of releases of his work before the year is out! I confidently predict, however, that this disc will stand head and shoulders above all the rest. The collection of motets based on Solomon's Song Of Songs was published in 1584 when Palestrina was at the height of his compositional powers and when he was something of a mega-star, revered by musicians and music-lovers throughout Europe. More famous for his masses and settings of liturical texts, Palestrina justified his music by using the interpretation of the relationship of the lovers as symbolic of the love of Christ for the Church. Choosing to record the full set of the Song Of Songs has put the Cambridge Singers in a category of their own: most Palestrina releases coinciding with the 400th anniversary of his death have concentrated on the well-known masses and motets, instead of taking the opportunity to explore the lesser known works. This release is an excellent and original choice - in fact I don't think there is any other recording of the piece currently available. Despite being a lesser-known work, in no way is it inferior to Palestrina's other works. This is a disc to treasure, the Cambridge Singers giving a very fine performance under the direction of John Rutter. Definitely the finest Palestrina release this year (so far).

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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