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Classical - Released October 1, 2021 | Coro

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The Sixteen contrasts traditional with contemporary in this choral feast of festive music. Bob Chilcott's sumptuous Advent Antiphons based on plainsong melodies anticipate the coming of Christmas and feature alongside Mykola Leontovich's much-loved Carol of the Bells, Richard Rodney Bennett’s stunning Susanni and Eric Whitacre’s shimmering Lux aurumque. Interspersed with the beautiful simplicity of traditional carols, this is a Christmas collection to savour. © Coro/The Sixteen
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Classical - Released September 10, 2021 | Coro

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Classical - Released September 3, 2021 | Coro

This is a compilation album from The Sixteen, offering tracks dating as far back as 1989. Special credit goes to mastering engineer Tom Lewington for putting together music recorded in quite a variety of sacred and secular acoustic environments; differences remain, but listeners won't be distracted by them. The usual praise of The Sixteen as one of the world's most consistent choral ensembles may certainly be brought to bear here, but there is more. This is among those rare cases where a compilation is preferable to the original source material, for its conception is unique. Director Harry Christophers selects settings of the Agnus Dei from the Catholic Mass (and the equivalent "Behold the Lamb of God" from Handel's Messiah, HWV 56), with movements ranging from the Renaissance to the 20th century. They are not chronologically presented, and they don't need to be; what makes this idea work is that settings of the Mass rely on tradition to a point where they seem, to an extent, to exist outside of time. Edmund Rubbra and Duarte Lobo can bump up against each other without the slightest discomfort. Of course, stylistic changes are reflected in the music, and when entirely new ideas appear, in the Agnus Dei movements of Britten's Missa Brevis in D major, Op. 63, or Poulenc's Mass in G major, FP 89, they have a vaguely revelatory effect. The album has some unusual pieces, like one from early Baroque composer Bartłomiej Pękiel, but Christophers, as usual, provides a final emotional payoff with Samuel Barber's remaking of his Adagio for strings into an Agnus Dei setting. A thoroughly crowd-pleasing compilation that also offers much to consider. © TiVo
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Classical - Released August 13, 2021 | Coro

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Classical - Released June 4, 2021 | Coro

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Despite only living until the age of 36, Purcell is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable musical geniuses of all time. The Sixteen continues its exploration of his music written for royalty, illuminating two more of Purcell’s Welcome Songs - Swifter, Isis, swifter flow and The summer’s absence unconcerned we bear. In his music for Nathaniel Lee’s tragedy Theodosius we witness the young Purcell displaying his playhouse wares in strokes of astonishing versatility some ten years before he made a serious impact as a master of music for the stage. © Coro/The Sixteen
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Classical - Released May 7, 2021 | Coro

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Classical - Released April 2, 2021 | Coro

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Escapism is the idea behind this latest offering from Harry Christophers and The Sixteen, and while that's certainly an apt concept for 2021 thus far, you don't need to be craving escapism in order to appreciate its contents. Their interpretation of “escapism” is a satisfyingly broad one, too. Encompassing over 500 years of repertoire and themes, there's everything here from the robust jollity of William Cornysh's male-voice Hoyda, hoyda, jolly rutterkin (“hoyda” being a jovial greeting, and a “rutterkin” being a swaggering gallant or bully) to the peaceful legato and suspended harmonies of Will Todd's mixed-voice Whisper Him my name based on a prayer of Saint Joseph, commissioned for Christophers and The Sixteen. Indeed those two sit side by side. There's also a new commission from baritone and composer Roderick Williams in the form of an unabashedly romantic and rapturous arrangement of An Eriskay Love Lilt, set to rippling piano waves. In fact one of the pleasures of this album is even balance between 21st century composers (there's also Peter Maxwell Davies, Bob Chilcott, James MacMillan and Eric Whitacre) and names of the past such as Cornyth, Stanford and Bax; and always with the flow from one work (and often century) to the next feeling thoroughly organic. The singing is equally everything you would anticipate from The Sixteen, with all their usual warmth and purity of tone, smooth blending, and committed expression of their clearly articulated texts' meanings. In short, this is yet another recording from The Sixteen which both their fans and choral lovers in general will be reaching for regularly and indefinitely, far into the future. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Classical - Released February 5, 2021 | Coro

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It's no small feat to record Mozart Violin Concertos in such a way as to add something new and meaningful to the existing pile, but that's precisely what's been done with this first installment of a new recorded cycle from the period instrument Handel and Haydn Society and its concertmaster Aisslinn Nosky. Live-recorded at Boston Symphony Hall, this programme presenting the third and fourth concertos alongside the Sinfonia Concertante is absolutely cracking. First to hit your ears is the combination of softly polished tone, crisp articulation and joyousness coming from the ensemble, further warmed by the hall's own glowing acoustic. Next comes the fluid elegance, personal warmth and droll humour from Nosky; in fact listen in closely and you'll hear her witty inflections being enjoyed by the audience too. Then there's the scoring details they're making you hear with fresh ears, such as the flutes dreamily floating their way over the top of the strings at the start of No. 3's Adagio. As for the Sinfonia Concertante, it's not just the feeling of a genuinely sparkling conversation going on between Nosky and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment co-principal Max Mandel that has you reaching for the repeat button (although listen to the way they're bouncing off each other in the first movement's answering phases, and their deliciously cheeky joint glissandi). It's also the sheer degree of instinctive fluid flow and life to it all, to the extent that I'm not sure whether I've ever previously heard such a gloriously freewheeling, borderline-wild final movement. If this is a taster of what's to come, then Volume 2 can't arrive soon enough. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 15, 2021 | Coro

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Classical - Released November 6, 2020 | Coro

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Experience two grand classics, alive with all the excitement and verve of their very first performances. Thrill to one of Haydn’s masterful ‘London’ symphonies that wowed England’s capital – the smash hit ‘Military’, so-called for intense depictions of the clash of arms and ferocious roar of war. In the epic Lord Nelson Mass Handel and Haydn Society's magnificent chorus and soloists join the orchestra in this homage to the heroic admiral who helped vanquish Napoleon. © Coro
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Classical - Released October 2, 2020 | Coro

The "greatest hits" album is generally the province of traditional symphony orchestras and large popular choruses; ensembles from the historical performance movement, generally intent on the exploration of specific musical moments, have avoided the format. Yet there's a place for such recordings by authentic performance groups, as this release by The Sixteen and their director, Harry Christophers, shows. The new listener who has been moved by the "Hallelujah" chorus from Messiah, HWV 56, ought to have a place to go next, and that place should not by default be the London Philharmonic Orchestra and its ilk: the size of the ensemble here, with 16 singers, give or take a few, and roughly that many instrumentalists, is closer to what Handel would have known. The selections on the album were recorded between 1990 and 2018 in a group of four London churches that have been skillfully knitted together sonically by remastering engineers. They include the "Hallelujah" chorus and the other favorites one would expect, nicely paired with pieces of similar impact but lesser renown. The mood is generally triumphal but is intelligently varied so as to give the listener an idea of the unerring dramatic sense that lies behind the popularity of Handel's choruses and of the various ways he used the chorus. There is a lengthy excerpt from Esther, HWV 50, "The Lord our enemy has slain," which is like a self-contained cantata with varied sections, and a chorus from the masque Acis and Galatea, HWV 49, which is made up of different stuff than the big oratorio choruses. The bottom line is that this collection fulfills its worthwhile purpose. © TiVo
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Classical - Released September 11, 2020 | Coro

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Classical - Released September 11, 2020 | Coro

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Classical - Released September 4, 2020 | Coro

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Purcell’s genius abounds throughout the latest volume of The Sixteen’s celebrated exploration of his music for monarchy. Rarely recorded in recent years, Harry Christophers and his award-winning ensemble breathe fresh life into these exquisite works, including two Welcome Songs and one of Purcell’s most famous verse anthems, Rejoice in the Lord alway. © Coro
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Classical - Released August 14, 2020 | Coro

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Classical - Released April 3, 2020 | Coro

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Few living composers communicate with the emotional directness of James MacMillan. It’s no secret that MacMillan’s profound religious belief drives his creativity, but music this powerful conveys a universal message, and the title of his new symphony, "Le grand Inconnu", suggests many possible interpretations. Imagine a vision too wondrous for eyes alone – ‘the lady more brilliant than the sun’. ‘The lady’ is the Virgin Mary, and The Sun Danced is an ecstatic choral celebration of the Miracle of Fatima commissioned for the Celebration of the Centennial of the Apparitions in Portugal. Mary Bevan is the featured soprano for this, the premiere recording. Harry Christophers writes: ‘By calling his new Symphony ‘Le grand Inconnu’ James has given himself that freedom to explore the mystery of the subject matter and, with repeated listening, we, the listener, discover more and more within the music… From the barely audible breathing at the start of the symphony to the first "forte" that is so sudden and ecstatic that it produces one of those heart pounding moments. Everything is drawn together by James into a cornucopia of sheer virtuosity and brilliance’. © Coro
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Classical - Released March 6, 2020 | Coro

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At their best, The Sixteen and their director Harry Christophers strike an exciting balance between informed historical performance and broad public appeal. The Call of Rome falls into this group, with limpid performances of some Renaissance favorites, including the most favorite of all, the Miserere of Gregorio Allegri. There will be plenty of listeners who will be more than satisfied with this work and with the serene Tenebrae Responsories for Holy Saturday of Tomás Luis de Victoria. Yet there is an innovative side to Christophers' program here. For one thing, he devises a hybrid version of the Miserere, labeled "its evolution": the original version of this mysterious piece was lost, and what is heard now is the product of centuries of reworking according to preference, earnest attempts at reconstruction, and sheer imagination. Christophers ingeniously gives the listener a look into this process, without even using the common version in which the singers ascend to the high C (the final strain heard here includes the C, but comes from a version in use at King's College, Cambridge). More broadly, Christophers and The Sixteen inquire into the role of Rome in the music of the later 16th century, setting two native-born Romans, Allegri and the underrated Felice Anerio, with two composers, Josquin Desprez and Victoria, who felt "the call to Rome." One might object here that the most famous Roman composer of all, Palestrina, might have been included in some way, but the program holds together as it is, and the singing is up to the usual high standard of The Sixteen. The album is a good place to start for those new to The Sixteen and is also worth the time of those familiar with the music of the 16th century. © TiVo
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Classical - Released February 21, 2020 | Coro

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Classical - Released February 14, 2020 | Coro

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Classical - Released November 1, 2019 | Coro

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The Handel and Haydn Society continues its acclaimed Haydn exploration on CORO with one of the composer's last major works - the dramatic and sumptuous Mass in B-flat major more commonly known as the ‘Harmoniemesse’ because of its use of a full wind band. It is accompanied on this album by the Symphony No. 99 in E-flat major - one of Haydn’s twelve ‘London’ symphonies composed between 1791 and 1795 when London was the indisputable musical capital of Europe. © Coro/The Sixteen