Reviewed by Gareth Paul Taylor
St Thomas' Music Group from Sevenoaks, Kent are deservedly renowned for representing Taize songs to the British church. For the uninitiated, Taize is a village community in France whose globally famous music is renowned for textual and musical simplicity, aiding prayer and meditation. This CD features the expanded group of "young professional singers and instrumentalists" alongside the regular small parish group, ably directed by the group's founder Margaret Rizza. The standard of articulation, phrasing and rounded dynamics is high; traditional four-part choral arrangements are sensitively accompanied by sparse guitars, strings, woodwind, organ and even brass, eg, the climactic renditions of "Da Pacem Domine" and "Cantate Domino". "Stay With Me" and "Beati" feature a baritone soloist (later joined by a soprano) conveying Jesus' words to a poignantly "sotto voce" accompaniment. The extended chants are lovingly arranged and structured, the highlight for me being the second track "O Lord Hear My Prayer", surely recognizable to even the unfamiliar ear, where a simple six-line text is explored over nearly eight minutes of excellent music ending with breathtaking pianissimo passages - dynamic shading at its best. The CD is simply packaged with full lyrics and parallel translations from the Latin (though these are not clearly differentiated). 13 tracks, 70 blissful minutes, though some might already have these recordings from when originally released.
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