This unusual CD should arouse a great interest not only among lovers of choral works, but also amongst those aficionados who are always delving into the history of this vast repertoire, particularly that emanating from Latin America.
Nearly every major coastal town in California inherited its name from one of the 21 missions that the Franciscan Order founded between 1769 and 1823. These missions were not only responsible for the shaping of a large portion of Mexico's recent history, but were also the central reality for the whole region as regards the religious, social and cultural aspirations of its inhabitants.
This dynamic activity also brought about with it a great musical flourish, but unfortunately almost all the music composed during this period remained languishing in some Mission choirbook, and many of the riches remained hidden even to music historians.
The pieces on this disc probe these musical frontiers and examine what local Californians would have experienced some 200 years ago both inside and outside the mission walls. The programme is split into three parts with one third of the repertoire dealing with ceremonial pieces. Another third is devoted to "Missa en Sol" attributed to Fra Juan Battista Sancho while the remainder explores the fabulous sounds of Manuel de Sumaya (America's Handel).
This is music of absolute beauty and purity; inspiring, uplifting and often spiritually moving. Chanticleer are at their most splendid and confident, and their absorbing renditions make these pieces shine in all their compelling originality. A memorable issue further augmented by a bonus DVD in which one can see and hear the music in the setting for which it was originally written. Riveting stuff all round.
Copyright © 2008, Gerald Fenech