Review: Chant – Music for Paradise by the Cistercian Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz

This wonderful CD includes some of my favourites like the solemn ‘Salve Regina’, the Communion Antiphon for Pentecost ‘Factus est Repente’ and the Requiem Mass.

I pressed ‘play’ and was immediately transported to my school days when we sang the Gregorian Requiem Mass at the funerals of nuns. The ‘In Paradisum’ in particular I always found particularly moving; the fact that I sang it most recently at the funeral of Doctor Mary Berry made it even more so.

The Monks have obviously done plenty of practice before making a CD with the performances as polished as you would expect from professional singers. But even more importantly there is also that wonderful kind of unconscious unity which comes with a group who play or sing the same type of music often together. The feeling of moving as one, observing all the niceties and scholarly points of the chant, is mesmerising. The rise and fall of the voices to the lines of the melodies with impeccably nuanced cadences is enviable and the text can be heard without fault.

For those who need a calm background for relaxation, this CD is ideal. For those who want to sing along as they do the ironing, you will be schooled in the correct manner. For those who just love it for its own sake, this CD is a treasure. Its special intensity is created by the voices of those who believe what they sing.

Review by Helen Nattrass

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