Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What is Beautiful? Stile Antico's new CD

They say that there is no accounting for taste, but surely one can take that slogan too far to the point that you no longer expect any interpersonal sharing of standards for what is truly beautiful. If I were to pick a genre of music that holds out the capacity for universal agreement of what constitutes beauty, it would be the polyphonic tradition of the Renaissance - an elaboration of chant that was composed with the hope of capturing some sounds of heaven. To me, it is not surprising that this music has earned a high place in Church documents. It is particularly suited to liturgy, and I'm pleased that technology has made it possible for this music to be shared with the world.

My favorite CD of this music right now is this new discovery: Song of Songs performed by Stile Antico of the UK. It is a beautifully edited collection of pieces written for some of the most engaging texts of scripture. It almost seems that the composers reserved their most inspired ideas for these texts. The composers represented include Palestrina, Guerrero, Gombert, Victoria, Lheritier, Ceballos, Clemens non Papa, and Lassus.

Here is a video of the group performing.

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