The Harp Consort/Andrew Lawrence-King, director
HARMONIA MUNDI HMU 807293 TT: 69:11 (5 channel)

ARVO PÄRT: De Profundis
Theatre of Voices/Paul Hillier, director. Christopher Bowers-Broadbent, organ; Dan Kennedy, percussion
HARMONIA MUNDI HMU807182 TT: 76:06 (5 channel)

Both of these are best-selling Harmonia Mundi releases, now issued in multi-channel. If you already own the regular CD versions there's little point in getting the surround version as the originals were so fine. On both recordings the performers are in the front, with gentle ambient sound from the rear which is a plus for the Pärt disk as the original was a touch on the dry side. The earliest work is Solfeggio from 1964, the latest the revision of Missa Sillabica in 1996, originally composed in 1977. The CD takes its title from Psalm 129 (De Profundis) which opens the program. Paul Hillier wrote a book on Pärt published in 1997 and has championed his music—And one of the Pharisees was written for them, and the composer was present at the recording sessions.

Missa Mexicana is a delight in every way. As CD notes state, "Missa Mexicana is a vivid programme which juxtaposes an exuberant setting of the Mass by Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla with the Latin-American and African folk-dances that inspired it, revealing the rich cross-currents of intellectualism and sensuality that characterize the mid 17th-century Hispanic baroque." Don't expect anything like Ariel Ramirez' dynamic Misa Criolla (recorded in 1987 with José Carreras as tenor soloist, an instant best-seller still in the catalog—Philips 420 955), or the African Mass Missa Luba—Philips 426 836—which is no longer available. The nine singers (sopranos Ellen Hargis, Tuuli Lindeberg, Clara Sanabras; altos Jennie Caddisy, Veera Railio; tenors Julian Podger and Ian Honeyman, and basses Paul Hillier and Paul Willenbrock) are accompanied variously by Mexican baroque guitars, theorbo, gamba, lirone, sackbut, bajón, shawms, conch shell, organ and pecussion, all directed by baroque-harp virtuoso Andrew Lawrence-King. Complete texts are provided. This is a class-act production.

R.E.B. (October 2003) (NEXT SURROUND REVIEW)