on February 1, 2004
When I recently played the first disk of this collection in the small bookstore/café where I work, a customer told me she had been trying to read but couldn't because she was so captivated by this CD's sublime music.
Although I am a sort of purist who hates when people say they listen to classical music just to relax, I find this CD set is perfect for inspiring reflection and relaxation. So, if you're looking for good music to relax to, this would be an excellent purchase.
The same goes if you're looking for some great Renaissance music. However, the term "Best of the Renaissance" may be a bit of a misnomer; the CD does not include a vast array of music from the said era. This collection is solely /a cappella/ music. Perhaps a more fitting title would be "The Best of Renaissance Choral Music." If you're looking for a broad sampling of music from this time period in one CD collection, this may not be for you. Nevertheless, if you want well performed choral music by some great composers, I recommend this CD to both Renaissance neophytes and aficionados without reservation.
on December 29, 2003
The Best of the Renaissance is certainly worth buying if only for the amazing "Spem in Alium" by Thomas Tallis.Nevertheless, I do not share the boundless enthusiasm of other reviewers for this album.
To begin with, three Masses are featured on this album,two on the first cd. That is too much to my liking. And while the Mass Pange Lingua by Desprez is undoubtedly a wonderful piece, the other masses are not the best: the Mass for five voices by Byrd, while very beautiful, lacks the depth, emotion and intimacy of his Mass for three voices. The Missa Papae Marcelli by Palestrina is brilliant but nothing more than an academic exercise in virtuosity.
And I definitely do not appreciate Gesualdo's Tenebrae Responsories for Holy Saturday. This is simply very mediocre music that nobody would care for if it did not sound modern in its cerebral ugliness and thereby flatter our infatuation with ourselves.
I recommend "The Essential Tallis Scholars" either instead of or in addition to "The Best of the Renaissance", depending on your pocket and interest for Renaissance choral music. I would also recommend O Magnum Mysterium by the Robert Shaw festival singers. Although only a third of that album is devoted to Renaissance music, the interpretation is so beautiful and spiritual that it is really worth having in your Renaissance music collection.
on February 22, 2000
For those looking for a wonderful and truly awe-inspiring overview of sacred music of the Renaissance, I highly recommend this CD, with this proviso: You'll spend quite a bit more money and time than you ever planned on buying and listening to more and more Renaissance music.
This CD does a superb job of giving us bits and pieces of 200 years of music, spanning from the turn of the 15th century and Josquin Desprez to the very late Renaissance and Allegri's incomparable Miserere Me. The one reason to choose this CD over the Silver offering is the fact that this one contains 3 whole masses - Byrd, Josquin, and Palestrina; this allows for some delightful comparison of 3 masses composed at different times and under differing circumstances in this era.
Enough said - do yourself a favour and have a listen - you will not regret it!
on July 14, 2001
I love these pieces. Speaking as one who sings such pieces, Tallis's Spem in Alium is one of a kind. 8 five voice choirs woven seamlessly together (that's what Spem in Alium is) - well, the very idea is impressive; a performance like this one makes it sublime. The three masses are a big plus, too. It's interesting to hear the progression from Gregorian-esque chant and Perotin-like polyphony to later works. I love both extremes and everything in between. Another bonus is that free sheet music ([...]) is available for many of the tracks, which is nice if you, like me, would just as soon sing your part as listen.
on November 26, 2000
This CD contains, to my knowledge, the best recorded performance of the sublime Miserere by Gregorio Allegri. There is a famous story of Mozart going to the Sistine Chapel to hear the Allegri Miserere when he was fourteen years old. After having heard it, he asked to see the score and was denied permission. He when to a second performance, and sat "as if in a trance" and returned to write out the piece from memory...making only two mistakes, which in fact turned out to be mistakes that the singers had made in the performance.
on July 10, 2000
If you are building a classical music library and want to find some good recordings of High Renaissance (16th Century) music, this is a good place to begin. The selections contain good samplings from many countries. The choir is wonderful to listen to. The amazing 40-part Spem in alium is worth the price of the CD alone. Unfortunately, the liner notes do not include translations of the songs, but even so, the CD is worth having.
on May 14, 2002
Many CDs bearing the title "the best of..." contain a hit or two and other works are there to fill the space in between without raising the costs too much. But not this one. Apart from the historically famous recording of Misere by the Tallis Scholars, the two CDs contain a number of other equally beautiful works, i.e. by the stunning and intriguing Gesualdo. Ceratinly good value.
on October 10, 1999
I bought this CD after hearing the first track, Allegri's Miserere. This is a must for the classical music collector. All the music is digital so the beautiful voices are pure and clear. This music could have dedicated me to the church. I keep wondering what people of that time thought when they heard this music for the first time.
on February 6, 2004
I perchased this cd and am truly truly glad I did. The sound makes me want to get somewhere and just cry out to God in joy, praise and reverence. The music is so peaceful pious (in a good way). Absolutely beautifuly executed. All the singers are with one accord-- and a great chord at that! Ye must needs purchase this cd!
on September 8, 2001
Wau, buy it, don't think about anything else. Just by it and feel a very deep emotion a kind of espiritual becoming. It's one of the bests recordings about reinacence. Please sorry about my gramar but I'm not american. Try it. Maybe your going tu discover thisngs in yourself you havent realised.