The most recent release from British choral ensemble Voces8 is a catalogue of shimmering music centring on the theme of light. The eight-piece group is flawless, and their radiant timbre doesn’t let the disc’s title down one bit. Their shining tone and technique make for joyful, peaceful listening, and the acoustics – Dore Abbey and St Michael’s, Highgate – help polish the already stunning performance.
The 15 tracks traverse centuries of music, from Renaissance masters such as Tallis to contemporary composers like Lauridsen and Ešenvalds. There’s even pop crossover in arrangements of Ben Folds and Massive Attack. It’s an album of unashamedly beautiful music intended for reflection and relaxation and on that level it works. But while thought has clearly gone into the curation, the result has missed the mark. The pop arrangements don’t come off that convincingly, and feel slightly sacrilegious when heard a track or two away from Allegri’s sublime Miserere (which does sound gorgeous). And Thomas Tallis with saxophone and a vocal arrangement of Elgar’s famous Nimrod from his Enigma Variations will probably irk the purists.
Ultimately this disc’s appeal lies in its beauty of sound, and for this reason I’d gladly have it on while sipping my afternoon cuppa. As long as you don’t mind light classical (pun intended), this disc is worth it – if only for the slick choral stylings of Voces8.