Purists of religious music may quibble about the appropriateness of a mixed choir performing sacred music from the Sistine Chapel, which has had a male schola cantorum
throughout its history; but when the mixed choir in question happens to be The Sixteen, with its angelically pure tone and marvelous blend of female and male voices, then purists should rethink their position. Besides, considering that the Sistine Chapel Choir has a reputation for singing with a rough tone, harsh attacks, sloppy cut-offs, and variable pitch, listeners who want to hear the music as it should ideally sound are wise to opt forThe Sixteen, which never offends in those areas of performance. The group's a cappella singing is as close to immaculate as a human choir can achieve, and Felice Anerio
, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
, Gregorio Allegri
, and Luca Marenzio
most likely never heard these works -- motets in 5, 6, 8, and 12 parts, as well as a mass -- performed to such sublime perfection in their lifetimes. Led by Harry Christophers
, The Sixteen has produced over 90 recordings since its formation in 1977, and this 2007 release finds the ensemble sounding as mellifluous and transparent as ever, with no signs of age or deterioration. Coro's sound is wonderfully clear and bright, and the resonant acoustics of St. Silas the Martyr, Kentish Town, give the voices a luminous radiance. Highly recommended.