Recordings of monks, or in this case nuns, singing medieval chant seem to come along in cycles, garner lots of publicity, and then retreat into the woodwork from whence they came as people get tired of the relatively simple background music attraction and find little more than that in them. This album of Lenten music, by a group of nuns in a Missouri convent, is not of a fundamentally different kind than the others, but it has several points in its favor. First of all, the feminine gender is not so common. Second, the fairly sophisticated engineering works in the music's favor: there's a good deal of space surrounding it, but it doesn't swallow up the words. And third, those words are not ritualistic but are picked for their significance by the sisters themselves; some of them are in English, and the music ranges from chant to polyphonic pieces and even includes a selection from the non-Catholic St. Matthew Passion of Bach. Fans of a cappella singing will find here a degree of precision that's impressive for amateur singers, and the entire project can be recommended to those whose tastes run toward the monastic, crown of thorns on the label and all.
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