- Since I believe in God the Father Almighty, for double chorus
The Sixteen, Britain's most popular small choir, generally offers performances of larger works ranging from the early period of English polyphony to the 20th century. But they've tried just about everything else at one time or another, so it's unsurprising to see them here, attempting to enter the territory of the English cathedral choir with a program of mixed anthems, madrigals, and part-songs from the Renaissance and the 20th century, with nothing in between. The rubric under which the program is subsumed, Poetry in Music, is interesting enough, but it's not very closely adhered to: four of the works set not poems, but the biblical text "When David heard that Absalom was slain." The result in terms of the program is less coherent than one might wish, but there's no question that the Sixteen and leader Harry Christophers are up to their usual high standards vocally. Text intelligibility well exceeds that heard in the recordings of the aforementioned cathedral choirs, and you might actually seek out this recording for its sensitive and clear rendering of the spare texts of W.H. Auden in the "Hymn to Saint Cecilia" of Benjamin Britten, for example. Everything here is highly listenable and has the trademark Sixteen clarity and assuredness, and when it comes to attracting airplay on Britain's Classic FM radio, which may have been the idea all along, the album is going to do well. The Sixteen are aided by fine sound engineering at the entirely appropriate Church of St Alban the Martyr, Holborn, London. Recommended for Sixteen fans, even if this is less likely to make a good starting point in exploring the group's work.