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American Record Guide: (11/2018) 
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Code-barres / Barcode : 5400439000292


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Reviewer: John W. Barker


I find this a terribly disappointing recording from a conductor who ought to do a lot better. Herreweghe has, to be sure, gone to some trouble. In particular, he has tried to define the choral movements as contrasting textures between soloists (up to 8 of them) and full ensemble, adding to them a group of 14 ripienists, which is interesting. He is sensitive about what instrumentations he uses. He has also followed  predecessors in preceding each Psalm with a plainchant antiphon, for a modest liturgical simulation.


But the general results are not very coherent. Herreweghe’s tempos can be inconsistent or eccentric, especially in the Sancta Maria Sonata, the Hymn, ‘Ave Maris Stella’, and the Magnificat. Above all, he seems to aim at an overall prettification. And I don’t mean beautifying, but just making all the singing sound lovely and elegant. This detracts seriously in the Psalms, which quite lose any flavor of their plainchant origins. He and his engineers have strange ideas of sonics. The plainchant schola sounds as if it is in the other room. The main vocal and instrumental forces are about midway in distance, but could be much closer for ensemble clarity. And the solo concerto singers are placed way back, which makes them sound irrelevant and difficult to appreciate. Following other bad habits, this set omits the alternate six-voice Magnificat. This is a two-disc release whose contents might almost be fitted onto a single disc these days, so it has become a real cheat by now. This is not seriously competitive. My recommendations remain the same. For a version with chant inclusions, try Andrew Parrott’s classic for Virgin (61662). Otherwise, either Suzuki for BIS (1071: N/D 2001) or King for Hyperion (67531: S/O 2006).

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