Taby Church Chamber Choir
Regular readers of this magazine know what I think of the CD version of this recording. It is the only CD that I have ever given a perfect score to. And good as that is, this SACD version is better. This is as good a reason to run out and buy an SACD player as any I have encountered.
Regular readers of my annual CES report know that, for over a decade, I have used the Proprius recording of Cantate Domino as my primary reference at the show. It has always been the only thing that I could stand to listen to on system after system for four days. And like that recording, Hush! The Angels Are Singing was recorded for Proprius in a church in Sweden. Aha! At least I know what I like when I hear it. I'm absolutely in love with this recording. Revered mastering maven Stan Ricker called this release a "new standard" in reference quality choral music, on first calling it to my attention. I thank Winston Ma for releasing this recording, then for having the good sense to also release it as an SACD. Bravo!
This recording of the Taby Church Chamber Choir was made at the 13th-century Taby Church and the Osteraker Church, both in the region of Stockholm, in 1996. It is natural and spacious. It is a stunning recording of a choir of approximately 30 voices (male and female, aged 18-25). Individual voices can easily be picked out, and the acoustic of the church is reproduced in all its glory. And when the church organ lets go, this recording really lets you know it. The overall effect is magical.
The human voice is very difficult to record correctly. It requires subtlety, delicacy, nuance, coherence, and neutrality, as well as dynamics and immediacy, with freedom from distortion. This recording from First Impression Music has all that in spades. The more I play it, the more I feel that it is my favorite choral recording of all time. Follow me around at CES next year, and see what disc I am playing.
There are 27 cuts, all with Christmas themes. There is excellent variety between solo female, solo male, and mixed voices. It's tough to pick out a favorite track (sorta like picking out my favorite Italian car), but "Sankta Lucia" remains a standout.
This recording has my very highest recommendation. Period. If you have the sightest interest in choral music, in classical music, or just in music, buy this recording. You won't be sorry. And if you like playing Christmas music around the holidays, just put this on continuous repeat and go wrap presents. My very best regards to Winston Ma for having the impeccable taste and judgment to issue this recording. I only have one problem with it. It eventually ends. Drat. I predict that this disc will not be far from my player for a long time to come... and I just found the repeat button on my SACD player's remote control.
Sound Quality: 100