Friday, June 01, 2007

What Palestrina Should I buy

I just received an email message asking about which audio CDs are best to buy to hear the "greatest hits" of Palestrina.

So here are my choices:

The Best of the Renaissance, by the Tallis Scholars. A wonderful set of 2 CDs. There are 7 used copies available at a low price.

The Soul of Rome, by the group Lionheart. Only 2 left. Tip-top fabulous singing.

Palestrina Missa Papae Marcelli, Westminster Abbey. This one has a special place in my own heart. It is the CD that opened a totally new world of music to me.

Missa pro defunctis, by Chanticleer. If you have never heard this group, you are in for something completely new and something near complete perfection in singing. Remarkable.

Prince of Music, with the Voices of the Ascension. The cover is a bit over the top, but the singing is excellent. It's a bit bouncy for my tastes but the group should be congratulated for avoiding the perpetual mistake of singing this music absurdly slowly. Old editions sometimes mark this music half the tempo it should be--as if angels are dreadfully dull and everything in Heaven moves in slow motion.

All the above are performance-oriented presentations, not in a liturgical setting. If you are looking for the true-blue liturgical rendering, complete with all the bells and smells (well, not literally), there is no substitute for the recordings of the St. Gregory Society. They are all amazing, but this one in particular might be a an excellent start. It is the Mass for Easter: Missa Regina Caeli. Here is the Kyrie, for example.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: