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Review CONTRAPUNCTUS
 

Classicalsource February 2019: Cd: Owen Rees conducts John Taverner’s Missa Gloria tibi trinitas
…Particularly impressive is the integration of a warmly blended Queen’s College tone with the brightly focused voices of Contrapunctus. The students sound every bit as accomplished as their professional counterparts and the sopranos are having the time of their lives in the rousing final sections of the ‘Gloria’ and the ‘Credo’ where Taverner’s contrapuntal skill is at its most thrilling.
Rees has a natural affinity for this music, whether underlining differences of mood, allowing phrases to bloom or deftly judging cadential arrivals, his touch is instinctive. Taverner’s balance between restraint and vigour, intimacy and invigoration, is mirrored by Rees and his forces who respond in kind, fully entering into the spirit of this sublime music.
As in other recordings, musicianship and pure intonation come as standard, as do clarity and precision, but what makes the difference here is the contrasts of choral weight and consequent drama. Any disappointment arising from one slightly jarring voice is soon erased for the intensity with which Taverner’s long-breathed lines are rendered. There is an unerring rightness about this performance as if the spirit of the composer was hovering near the microphones.  David Truslove - Article

Rondomagazine.de 17/06/2017: Virgin and Child (Music From The Baldwin Partbooks II)
..., Das Ensemble zeichnet sich aus durch bestechend saubere Intonation, welche die wichtigste Voraussetzung ist für das „Einrasten“ der Klänge, die sich wegen der erwähnten hohen Soprane hier oft über einen gewaltigen Ambitus hinweg erstrecken. .. So erscheint die herrliche Musik in dieser Darbietung gleichzeitig objektiv und im verträglichen Maße auch subjektiv – gleichzeitig übermenschlich schön und doch auch erfüllt von menschlicher Wärme. Eine hervorragende Interpretationsleistung. Michael Wersin - Article

Gramophone 23/04/2017: Virgin and Child: Music from the Baldwin Partbooks, Vol 2
…The choral sound is distinctive. Astringent countertenors pierce through sweet, rounded sopranos, and the whole is anchored by a wonderful breadth in the basses. With comparatively small numbers there’s greater muscularity here than, say, The Sixteen, which is particularly well suited to the earlier works – the Fayrfax and the austere beauty of Taverner’s Mater Christi. Just occasionally you get a flicker of shrillness in the upper voices in this high-lying repertoire, a glimpse of the furious technical paddling required beneath the surface to keep these lines afloat, but it’s a small quibble. Contrapunctus remain king in a very crowded market place. - Full article

Planet Hugill 14/04/2017 : Virgin and Child: Owen Rees and Contrapunctus continue their exploration of the Baldwin part-books - Superb musicianship in this survey of the flowering of Tudor polyphony
Rees uses a flexible ensemble which generally varies between eight and 11 singers, singing with a lovely fluency and clarity. The sopranos, particularly in the high soprano lines, have a beautiful elegance and focus to them, keeping the sound light. The ensemble is notable for the blend, but there is a clear ebb and flow to the voices as the textures change and different lines become prominent. The singers perform with a lovely sense of line, and beautiful poise. Occasionally I wonder what the pieces would sound like with a bigger ensemble, but the musicianship of the singers is such that you are never disappointed. This is superb stuff.
This disc is a feast for lovers of Tudor polyphony and thanks to John Baldwin's taste for older music as well as new, we have a lovely range of styles in stunning performances.  Robert Hugill - Full article

Klassik.com 7/4/2017: Virgin and Child - Music from the Baldwin Partbooks II
Owen Rees und Contrapunctus setzen ihren Streifzug durch die Baldwin Partbooks auf hohem Niveau fort. Eine feine Platte englischen Kontrapunkts. - Echte Könner
… Das Ensemble singt kraftbetont, entschieden, was auch in den abwechselnd eingefügten solistischen Passagen positiv ins Gewicht fällt. Intoniert wird mit entsprechend kräftiger Grundierung, vibrierend, dennoch mit der notwendigen Sensibilität – in jeder Hinsicht eine der großen Stärken des Ensembles..   Dr. Matthias Lange - Ganze Resenzion

AllMusic, September 2013
…At the center of it all stands Byrd, whose imposing, dignified works have rarely received performances of such balance and power. An exceptional Renaissance choral release… - James Manheim

CDHotlist.com October 2013
…Owen Rees and Contrapunctus have created one of the most ravishingly lovely recordings I’ve heard in a year… - Rick Anderson

Gramophone Magazine BBC Radio 3 CD Review September 2013
…Very erudite and engaging…you can't not have a bit of Portuguese polyphony when it's what Owen Rees is so good at…the Byrd on it is sung beautifully....enormously spacious, broad and beautiful. - Caroline Gill

BBC Radio 3 September 2013 : CD Review
…It's a lovely sound, beautifully focused and the intonation's excellent as well...we've both enjoyed that a lot… - Andrew McGregor

The Sunday Times August 2013
...an experience of aching but delicious self-indulgence...an intensification of expression, a sense of deep personal convictions and emotions. These are stunningly beautiful works...The singers shape each piece lovingly. Impeccable…. - Stephen Pettitt

The Observer 4/08/2013 : CD Libera Nos: The Cry of the Oppressed
This debut recording by the clean-voiced and agile Contrapunctus ensemble includes a genuine discovery, perhaps expected when scholar/conductor Owen Rees is in charge….. The choir sings it and works by Byrd, Philippe de Monte, Pedro de Cristo and Martin Peerson with admirable, firm-toned fluidity. More, please. - Stephen Pritchard

Sinfini Music, August 2013 ****
…Owen Rees has devised a profound musical meditation...Experience and vocal excellence erge in the singing of Contrapunctus to produce performances extraordinary even by the British vocal group’s own high standards...immaculate intonation, refined tonal blend and near-perfect ensemble... - Andrew Stewart

The Times, August 2013 ****
...this exemplary disc... Anguished masterpieces are juxtaposed with discoveries, including a convincing new vocal version of Tallis’s (hitherto instrumental) Libera nos. Pristine performances by Owen Rees’s Contrapunctus choir... - Richard Morrison

The New Releases Show, Classic FM, August 2013
Connoisseur's Choice: '…high quality stuff, let me tell you…excellent all the way round… -  David Mellor

 

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