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Classical - Released September 18, 2015 | Signum Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama
A near contemporary of Bach and Vivaldi, Benedetto Marcello was arguably as well-known as either of those giants during his own lifetime. The group of 50 psalm settings from which the four psalms here are excerpted -- unlike anything by Bach or Vivaldi -- appeared after the psalms' publication in translations into German, French, Swedish, and Russian, in addition to the English version here issued in 1757, and they have the added interest of having been used in Jewish as well as Christian settings. They're sizable pieces in the grand mid-Baroque sacred manner, certainly not with Vivaldi's new preponderance of melody, but with a good deal of ingenuity in the relationships among the solo parts and that between soloists and ensemble. The British group Voces8 is underpowered for this music, but with the soloists, especially the hot countertenor Barnaby Smith, the news is all good, and the group cleanly executes the difficult "Canon triplex" that closes the program. The biggest novelty is that what's recorded here is not the original Marcello versions of these pieces from the mid-1720s, but an English adaptation made by Charles Avison in 1757. This certainly helps to demonstrate Marcello's renown, but it may be of greater interest to enthusiasts of the English Baroque than to casual listeners. With fine instrumental work by Smith's ensemble Les Inventions, these handsome works are worth a new listen. Marcello is to Vivaldi, perhaps, as Buxtehude is to Bach. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 19, 2018 | VCM Records

Hi-Res Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Your attitude toward the English vocal octet (hey, truth in advertising) Voces8 may ultimately be determined by your general feeling toward smooth, crossover-oriented choral singing, conservative in style. But if you have the slightest sympathy toward that, there are good reasons to choose Voces8 over other similar groups: their sound is sensuous without being sentimental, the engineering here from Abbey Road Studios (with composer Jonathan Dove using John Lennon's piano in his work The Passing of the Year, no less) is superb, and above all, the group's programming concepts are inventive and manage to teach while they entertain. That has never been more true than on Equinox, a program that uses the concept of seasonal transition both literally and metaphorically, and thus weaves together sacred and secular material in an unusually effective way. Both growth and death are quietly addressed. The program likewise integrates Renaissance and contemporary material effectively: this is a staple of English choral recordings, but the marriage here seems deeper and more convincing. As for the engineering, Abbey Road's engineers are uncanny in capturing the quiet sounds of Graham Lack's This Ember Night (sample track seven for a taste of what awaits those with even moderately good equipment). The "ember night," one might add, is a pagan concept. The Passing of the Year, for chorus and piano, is undeniably relevant thematically, but whether the piano disturbs the mood is something that may vary by individual listener. On balance, an intriguing and splendidly made album of music for small vocal group. © TiVo
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Classical - Released July 24, 2020 | VOCES8 Records

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Beware, under its “crossover” façade this 2 hours+ of vocal music which continuously alternates between pieces from the Renaissance or early Baroque, including an intense vision of Claudio Monteverdi's Lagrime d'amante al sepolcro dell'amata, (SV 111 from Book VI of the Madrigals) - and more modern pieces such as the famous Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen in a moving transcription or Britten’s Hymn to St. Cecilia, are a real splendour. The rare cantata BWV 150 by J. S. Bach can also be found in its entirety. Throughout the album, the voices are splendid, the performances of this British a cappella octet (founded in 2005) are constantly lively and intense, and the close yet spacious sound recording brings all the harmonic friction to life. With 33 tracks (a sacred number par excellence), After Silence celebrates the ensemble’s fifteen years of existence led by its countertenor Barnaby Smith and constitutes a convincing panorama of five centuries of vocal music, in sometimes surprising yet always natural sequences, like between the cantata by the Leipzig Cantor and the restful Earth Song by Frank Ticheli. The most contemporary pieces such as Jonathan Dove's Vertue or Philip Stopford's Lully, Lulla, Lullay are performed with the same intensity as the more well-known scores... An essential release, a zenith of emotions which leaves a lasting impression. One last word: if you liked our Qobuzissime Duruflé in spring 2019 (Houston Chamber Choir / Robert Simpson), this release is really for you. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 18, 2019 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Lux

Classical - Released January 1, 2015 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Moving from the Signum label to the major Decca, the British choir Voces8, indeed an octet, breaks into new territory with its debut release for the Lux label. The album, with its vaguely positive theme and its mix of Renaissance, contemporary British and American, and pop selections, is aimed squarely at Britain's substantial crossover market. But it departs from earlier easy-on-the-ears collections in several ways, and it's worth the time of anyone who likes virtuoso choral singing. Voces8 not only takes on the difficult octet vocal blend, they spice things up by using a pair of countertenors on the alto parts (this Lux shares with the group's earlier recordings). The shimmering effects that result are quite impressively controlled and even more significantly beautifully engineered in a pair of locations. Choirs have sung arrangements of the likes of Massive Attack and Ben Folds before, but it's not often that choral singing of this quality has been applied to them. The whole thing is so beautiful that the pieces of music do run the risk of seeming to run together, and an hour of pleasant aural surroundings may be what's on the mind of many buyers. But this release offers something a step above the basics. © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 21, 2016 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released April 17, 2020 | VOCES8 Records

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This release is the third in an ambitious set from Voces8, a vocal octet that marries sensuous surfaces to abstract programming ideas in a way that nobody else is quite doing. The abstract component is elegant. The title of the group of albums, which marks Voces8's 15th anniversary, is After Silence, a phrase taken from Aldous Huxley ("After silence, that which comes closest to expressing the inexpressible is music"), and the four albums each embody a concept (Remembrance, Devotion, Redemption, Elemental) and one of the four classical elements (earth, fire, air, and water). Redemption is the third album in the set, and the works involved touch on the "Redemption" theme, and air, if air is taken to mean breath as well, in a general way. This small vocal group can produce a gorgeous sound like few others, and in intimate works like Stephen Paulus' The Road Home, they create a truly rich effect. They are joined here on instrumental tracks by the Academy of Ancient Music, a veteran group that quickly adapts to what the choir and its director, Barnaby Smith, are doing. The chamber quality of Mahler's song Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen has rarely been so exquisitely put across. Is the Bach cantata with which the program concludes too sensuous? Some may say so, but one awaits eagerly the final section in the album series and the final joining-together of all the albums in a deluxe box set as the grand finale. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 8, 2019 | VOCES8 Records

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With this release and its successors, Voces8 (stylized VOCES8) adds innovation in presentation to its well-known fresh sound and programming. The After Silence series (the title comes from Aldous Huxley's dictum that "After silence, that which comes closest to expressing the inexpressible is music") began in late 2019 and continued into 2020 with short albums, EPs in popular music parlance, that each address a single theme. In the summer of 2020, if the creek doesn't rise and the coronavirus permits, the four parts will be joined together into a box release adorned with visual art and more. The commercial potential of this idea appears promising, for this, and its successor ("Devotion"), both reached upper chart levels. It's easy to see why, for the shorter format boils Voces8's unexpected stylistic juxtapositions down to a maximally startling format. This first volume, devoted to the idea of Remembrance, strays only slightly beyond the sacred realm in works by Arvo Pärt and Hubert Parry, and taken singly, these works could all have appeared, with maybe a raised eyebrow or two, on a cathedral choir program. Yet somehow, the effect is entirely unusual. Perhaps it's that Parry's generally stodgy There is an Old Belief is brought to life by the edgy singing of Voces8 and then followed unexpectedly by the "Pie Jesu" of Fauré: an odd combination that makes perfect sense here. The program of part two of After Silence, on the theme of devotion, is even more daring, but everything here is beautifully sung, and the package is quite satisfying. © TiVo
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Classical - Released March 6, 2020 | VOCES8 Records

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This release is part of a series by the vocal ensemble Voces8 (stylized VOCES8) that is inventively presented as well as being daringly programmed and beautifully sung. The series is called After Silence (the title comes from Aldous Huxley's statement that "After silence, that which comes closest to expressing the inexpressible is music"). It began in late 2019 with After Silence I: Remembrance and continues into 2020 with short albums, EPs in popular music terminology, that each address a single theme. In the summer of 2020, if the coronavirus permits, the four parts will be joined together into a box release, with visual art and more. The commercial potential of this idea appears promising, for both After Silence I and II reached upper chart levels. It's no surprise: the shorter format boils Voces8's unexpected stylistic juxtapositions down to simple and startling contrasts. This second volume, taking up the idea of Devotion, begins with three contemporary pieces, two of them related to the Coventry Carol, and then continues with the Lagrime d'amante al sepolcro del amata (Tears of the Lover at the Sepulchre of the Beloved), from Book Six of Monteverdi's madrigals: not sacred, but devotional in an entirely different sense. As if that wasn't enough of a surprise, the program ends with the famed "Jesu bleibet meine Freude" chorale from Bach's Cantata No. 147, Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147. These pieces might not seem to fit together at all, but the innovative theme, and the rather eerie harmony singing of Voces8, make them fit and offer shades of contrast not found in the music-making of Voces8's many small-group competitors. The program of part one of After Silence, on the theme of remembrance, is a bit soberer for those who would prefer that, but the present release is absolutely cutting-edge. © TiVo
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Classical - Released April 7, 2014 | Signum Records

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The choir of eight might be regarded as the black belt test of choral singing, and the British group Voces 8 has released several albums that hold appeal for both explorers of unusual choral repertory and those who are simply fans of a clean choral sound. Possibly A Purcell Collection might better be titled A Purcell Miscellany, for it's hard to detect a strong principle organizing the program. The packaging makes a virtue out of the program's diversity, offering "an invitation to stroll through the world of one of England's greatest composers," but it's a bit unexpected to be taken directly from old-school polyphony of the sacred pieces to the zippy Italo-Spanish dance rhythms that were, in the England of Purcell's time, the hippest thing going. This is not a greatest-hits collection; "When I am laid in earth" and other Purcell standards are not present, and actually the pieces included are for the most part fresh and unusual. Check out the rarely heard and impressively structured anthem My heart is inditing of a good matter (track 8), composed for the coronation of James II in 1685. The singers and the instrumentalists of French group Les Inventions sustain this substantial work excellently, and the choir's control never flags over the whole program. If the goal is a sampling of the many genres in which Purcell was active, some of them little understood these days (consider the "semi-opera"!), this well-recorded item will fill the bill. The French church sound is ideal for the anthems and is adapted well for the secular pieces. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 18, 2019 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released October 21, 2016 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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This seasonal release is only occasionally connected with Christmas, and it's notable and, probably for many listeners, desirable for that reason alone. The subject is winter itself, as seen in stark Nordic landscapes and reflected, presumably, in the music composed within them. That often means the Baltic countries, where holy minimalism rules these days. The Estonian giant of the style, Arvo Pärt, is here, but a bigger presence is Latvia's Peteris Vasks, whose music is becoming more widely known. The English ensemble Voces8, in fact, has pointed to his music as the inspiration for this collection. So start by sampling the aptly titled Plainscapes, where the choir is accompanied by violin and cello. Compared with Pärt, the music is not so affectless, but it has the same kind of clean restraint. Minimalist composers are usually grouped together on recordings, but part of the aim of Voces8 here seems to be to create a program that links Baltic minimalism to other sparse modern styles. The results are interesting if rather subtle: what you hold in your hands or on your screen is an hour-plus of slow-moving music of homogeneous texture and sound, but the colors do shift as the program proceeds. There is one world premiere, Rebecca Dale's Winter, and most of the pieces aren't terribly common. The lack of texts is a minus, discouraging deeper engagement with the music and giving the impression that the album is intended as background music, when there's actually more to it than that. © TiVo
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released February 1, 2010 | Signum Records

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Classical - Released June 5, 2020 | VOCES8 Records

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Pop - Released December 1, 2008 | VCM Records

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Lux

Classical - Released January 1, 2015 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Moving from the Signum label to the major Decca, the British choir Voces8, indeed an octet, breaks into new territory with its debut release for the Lux label. The album, with its vaguely positive theme and its mix of Renaissance, contemporary British and American, and pop selections, is aimed squarely at Britain's substantial crossover market. But it departs from earlier easy-on-the-ears collections in several ways, and it's worth the time of anyone who likes virtuoso choral singing. Voces8 not only takes on the difficult octet vocal blend, they spice things up by using a pair of countertenors on the alto parts (this Lux shares with the group's earlier recordings). The shimmering effects that result are quite impressively controlled and even more significantly beautifully engineered in a pair of locations. Choirs have sung arrangements of the likes of Massive Attack and Ben Folds before, but it's not often that choral singing of this quality has been applied to them. The whole thing is so beautiful that the pieces of music do run the risk of seeming to run together, and an hour of pleasant aural surroundings may be what's on the mind of many buyers. But this release offers something a step above the basics. © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 18, 2019 | VOCES8 Records

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Classical - Released February 14, 2020 | VOCES8 Records

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Classical - Released January 1, 2014 | Decca Music Group Ltd.