The Sixteen are one of the world’s great choral ensembles, with three decades of performing and recording to their name. While the ensemble members now number more than their name would suggest, they are still going strong, recently delving into the repertoire of Polish baroque masters. Their fifth release in this series spotlights the works of Marcin Mielczewski, one of the most noted Polish composers of the 17th century.

Musically, Mielcziewski found an affinity with the Italian style, influenced by Italian composers based in Poland, as well as the polyphonic works of Palestrina. Most of his output consists of instrumental-vocal church concertos, which feature on this disc, along with two masses, motets, and purely instrumental music in the form of two canzonas. It’s in the first canzona, for two instruments, where you can hear music with more of a ‘Polish’ influence, thanks to the inclusion of popular Polish dance forms. This is one of the more compelling works in the programme.

The sound of The Sixteen is radiant throughout and well balanced, the ensemble managing the challenges of the intricate polyphonic writing with grace and clarity. Together with a period-perfect orchestra, each work is finely shaped by director Eamonn Dougan. The contrast of instrumental, choral and small vocal ensemble works make for an inviting programme. Fans of the early Baroque will find an enjoyable addition here.

Composer: Marcin Mielczewski
Repertoire: Sacred and instrumental works
Performers: The Sixteen/Eamonn Dougan
Label and Catalogue Number: Coro COR16153