"Infelix ego", volume 13 and the newest of The Cardinall's Musick's longtern project of recording all the works of William Byrd (1540-1625), is not up to the standard set by many of the previous issues. Here are my reasons for thinking so:
1) There's too much scooping and sagging (rising to the pitch or falling off the pitch), especially among the highest voices. But then, for me, any scooping and/or sagging is too much.
2) The tenors sound "neutral". Reserved. Supportive rather than expressive. Bad news. In this music the tenor line HAS to be full of expression.
3) There seem to be too many voices on too many parts, which is surprising because the ensemble has only twelve singers here. The result is that old 'choral' sound of broad-band tuning-by-committee.
4) Besides which, there's some outright bad tuning here and there, suggesting either inadequate rehearsal or a lack of draconian attention from the conductor, Andrew Carwood.
It's hard to separate the performance from the specific music on this CD. There are surely some distinctive small pieces - some of the Propers for the Feast of All Saints (Halloween to Americans) - and the longest single piece, the title track Infelix ego, has musical profundities in it. But the whole performance seems less 'committed' and energetic than I expected from this ensemble. The standard of excellence, to my ears, was volume 10, "Laudibus in sanctis", a set of polyphonic antiphons sung so well that I tossed a wad of money at five other volumes of the series. I'm hoping they all turn out closer to V. 10 than V. 13 in quality.