Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Saint Gregory Society

For about 10 years, I've been very interested in the work of the St. Gregory Society. I had heard very great things about the quality of the sacred music which they perform.

For those not familiar, the St. Gregory Society is a schola in New Haven, CT. which pursues the classic polyphonic and chant tradition of the Church in the context of the classical Roman liturgy.

They do a fantastic job at this parish on all levels. Back to the schola however. Recently I had the opportunity to receive copies of three of their CD's: The Solemn Mass of the Epiphany, The Solemn Mass of Corpus Christi, and The Solemn Mass of Easter. These are only 3 of their 7 recordings, of which the Solemn Mass of Epiphany is the latest.

The polyphony and chant is executed with precision, and the recording quality is absolutely of professional quality. I have not been disappointed with the expectations which had been built up for me in this society. Certainly the Mass settings that they choose are classic, coming from the likes of Palestrina, Orlando di Lasso, and Josquin DesPrez, but one might ask, what makes them any different from other excellent recordings such as those of the Tallis Scholars, the Cambridge Singers or "The Sixteen"?

The first answer to that question is simply that this group is an actual Catholic liturgical schola, built for the purpose of singing in the context of the classical Catholic liturgical tradition. That alone makes them worthy of additional support. However, there is an additional aspect to the recordings of this schola which does make them unique.

Unlike other recordings of Mass settings which are comprimsed solely of the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei, these recordings are actual liturgical recordings. Thus you are not simply hearing those five Mass parts, but you are additionally hearing the chanted prayers of the Mass itself -- such as the chanted Epistle and Gospel for example. In other words, these are true liturgical recordings, down to the bells at Mass.

That they have been able to do this, and yet still maintain a studio quality recording in a controlled environment is phenomenal.

In addition to their audio recordings, they have also made available an video recording of a classical Latin liturgy, sung by this schola and celebrated in this marvelous church. The video, like the audio recordings, does not disappoint.

I cannot but recommend this group's recordings and I hope the next time you are looking to gift a liturgical recording, or looking for one for yourself, that you will consider giving this fine schola your patronage.

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