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The compilation - 'After Silence' - was released to commemorate Voces8's fifteenth anniversary.
The two disc compilation comprise four thematic unities that voice primal experiences that have been held sacrosanct in human culture since time immemorial: 'Remembrance', invoking death, loss, and the return to earth; 'Devotion', focusing on the flames of love, sacred and secular; 'Redemption', seeking renewal and the breath of life; and 'Elemental', where the ebb and flow of nature meets the search for purity.
The compilation sets standards of excellence from its conceptualization through its implementation. The thought given to the selection of title, the exceptional quality of the liner note in both form and content, the selection of choral repertoire, employing a variety of genres and sound worlds and illuminated by a wide range of choral textures and the meticulous preparation and practice of the choir culminating in a sublime rendition generates to the listener a unique feeling of inspiration, gratification and fulfillment.
The title - 'After Silence' - was inspired from a text by Aldous Huxley: 'From pure sensation to the intuition of beauty, from pleasure and pain to love and the mystical ecstasy of death - all things that are fundamental, all things that to the human spirit, are most profoundly significant can only be experienced, not expressed. The rest is always and everywhere silence. After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.'
A significant effort was invested in selecting individual chorals from eminent composers active between the 16th and the 21st century and include William Byrd, Claudio Monteverdi, J.S. Bach, Gabriel Faure and Arvo Part; Two beautiful chorals which are included in the concluding part of the compilation, were specifically commissioned by Voces8 and are given here their premiere recording, these are 'Vertue' composed by Jonathan Dove (2019) and 'Elemental Elegy' (2019) by the Swedish composer Marten Jansson.
When I first came across Voces8 I wasn't totally convinced, mainly because in the original line-up the soprano sound seemed overly dominant. Also they didn't always perform pieces well: their Holst Nunc Dimittis for example was too fast and had insufficient dynamic range. I was also slightly underwhelmed by the first CD of theirs I bought: Lux was full of pleasant but unmemorable pastel shades and there appeared to be one or two ringers substituting for regular members of the group in the recording.
This double CD has however won me over completely. It's absolutely wonderful, containing a really interesting and diverse selection of material, beautifully sung throughout. One senses the group is reaching new heights under the now very assured direction of Barnaby Smith (their live performances of Bach's St Matthew Passion and Handel's Messiah on YouTube are simply brilliant). Very glad to have purchased.
Voces8 is simply the BEST for classical choral music, but After Silence is a stand out among their work. Everything about this CD is spectacular.... the physical product is beautiful, the song selection is perfect and the singing is perfection. Highly recommended!!
I'm relatively late to the party, only discovering Voces8 at the end of last year whilst looking for music for a funeral. They are truly extraordinary. A marvellous blend of voices, yet each outstanding in its own right. This is a particularly good album choice including some of their best pieces from the Renaissance (Byrd) to the contempary (Whitacre) and without the unnecessary inclusion of pop, though I do realise some like the Sound of Silence et al. A lucky punt on my part and excellent value for money.
An excellent intro to this virtuosic a capella group and music which is balm to the soul at just about any time of day. Cannot wait to get to see this lot in a live performance.
I received it today and played it today and I think everything was beautiful. The booklet is a bonus. I started to read that today and it's so well and I'm looking forward to what I haven't read; it's all so very well put together.