Sacred Treasures of Spain

Sacred Motets from the Golden Age of Spanish Polyphony
The London Oratory Schola Cantorum, Charles Cole
hyperion CDA68359

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This CD provides a lovely cross-section of choral music from Renaissance Spain, combining some very familiar works by Victoria and Guerrero with some perhaps less widely known repertoire by Vivanco, Ribera, Robledo and Esquivel. The male voices of the Schola Cantorum, ably directed by Charles Cole, sing with a high degree of focus and expression, giving powerful readings of this superb repertoire. A major factor in the recording is the very large and resonant acoustic of the recording venue, St Albans Church, Holborn, which more or less dictates sedate tempi and encourages a degree of unhurried ‘lingering’. I have to say that I was in no way averse to this, feeling that it brings out the full magnificence of these motets, but the absence of any ‘rapid’ passages does give the CD something of a two-dimensional quality, and even a slightly dated feel. I seem to remember that the London Oratory has an equally rich acoustic, and it is clear that the singers feel very at home with this degree of resonance. Certainly, Charles Cole never allows the music to wallow, and the performances are never less than dynamic and expressive. The choir has a wonderfully stable sound, with admirable intonation throughout as well as impeccable balance and blend.

D. James Ross

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