The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles
, are a community of Benedictine nuns near Kansas City, Missouri. They are not the first to succeed with liturgical music of a blandly contemplative quality, and the high-powered chart performance of both this release and its predecessor, Advent at Ephesus
, may be due in part to the fact that no one has filled this particular niche for a while. But they also add something to the genre, with a mixture of material intended to keep the sweet sounds from cloying into background music. Angels and Saints at Ephesus
consists of pieces in English as well as Latin, in several different styles that provide an attractive progression from monophony to harmony to slightly richer shades and back again. There are chants (mostly the rhythmically straight lines of medieval sequences and hymns), Renaissance and Renaissance-style pieces by Victoria and others, and simple pieces in Romantic and late Romantic idioms. If your intent is to use this music to put yourself in a calm frame of mind, it will serve your purposes well. If you are sympathetic to the theology pursued by the Benedictines sisters themselves, they appear to have struck a balance between sensitivity to the devotional texts and precision of musical expression. Beyond these two groups, however, the music may have limited appeal; it does not engage itself with anything beyond the four walls of its narrow world. The sonic work by German producer Christopher Alder
is a major contributor to the album's success.