This collection of music from the last thousand years is masterful from start to finish. From well-known mainstays of choral repertoire such as Lotti's "Crucifixus" and Casals' "O Vos Omnes" to the more seldom heard pieces, such as Rachmaninov's setting of the Beatitudes, the listener is treated to musically sympathetic and disciplined performances. Even if, like me, you're not of a religious persuasion, you'll love every minute of it.
There are so many highlights to this album it becomes cruel to say any piece was not among them. The Barber Adagio/Agnus Dei is a masterwork, and the Cambridge Singers' discipline and pathos make the arrangement come alive in ways the strings simply can't.. The Lotti "Crucifixus" (an enduring classic), Casals "O Vos Omnes" (a beautiful and moving work, conveying the suffering of the Passion without garishness) and Byrd's enchanting "Viri Gallilei" are fantastic and provide more than enough reason to buy the album. The Messaien "O Sacrum Convivium," with its subtly sensuous harmonies and the Bairstow "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" with its haunting melody and varied textures will silence any who say that church music has become a lost art in the 20th Century. Palestrina's phrases soar as though on the wings of angels (particularly in "Hodie Christus Natus Est.") And Bruckner, as always in his good moments, is as sexy as the Church would let him be.
While the inclusion of some Stanford or Tallis would have been fantastic, this album stands as one that should be in the library of anyone who loves choral music, along with "Hail Gladdening Light" and "Faire is the Heaven."
In short, BUY THIS ALBUM. You'll love it.