Tenet, directed by Jolle Greenleaf
Olde Focus Recordings FCR 919
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I have been waiting for this CD – my first Covid recording of choral music. It has to be said that apart from the masked ensemble picture inside the CD cover you would be blissfully unaware of the recording’s context, and this is how it should be. The American ensemble Tenet presents a varied programme of 19th- and 20th-century close-harmony music, both familiar and unfamiliar – Parry, Howells Vaughan Williams, Holst, Warlock, John Goss, as well as traditional music and earlier repertoire. The group’s director, Jolle Greenleaf, features frequently as soprano soloist, and her gleaming tone is very pleasing and also sets the flavour of the whole ensemble. They have a delightful almost ‘light music’ ease with their phrasing, and their impressive blend and intonation are redolent of ‘close-harmony’ singing as much as customary ‘European’ early music singing. Some of the solo voices introduce a degree of vibrato, but this is carefully controlled in the ensemble context, and only where the harmonic progressions are more challenging, as in Howells’ A Spotless Rose, does the intonation wobble a tiny bit. This is a very enjoyable CD, and it holds out the prospect that many other choral ensembles will have weathered Lockdown and will be able to return to superlative form very soon.
D. James Ross