I don’t know if anyone is still interested in this blog since I seemed to have abandoned it. I hope you are. I usually try to not talk about me except as it relates to my experience with this music but I do want to quickly say that I have lost 5 pounds and my garden is growing nicely. I think I have averted the looming need to buy larger trousers so I don’t feel guilty about sitting down again to write a bit.
It’s been a couple of years since I stumbled into this ancient and mysterious world of boy choir music and began an exploration that has been both satisfying and fun. When I started blogging about it I was pretty ignorant. I still am, but maybe a little less so than before. Some very nice people helped me learn a lot with their comments and explanations of things with which I had no experience. Of course, I’ve only scratched the surface and that is why I laugh when I look back at some earlier posts and see how opinionated and downright cheeky I sounded at times. I have decided to revisit some of the albums that I was critical of to see if they look better now.
I had a pretty tepid response to the 1997 CD Gregorian Moods by the Monks and Choirboys of Downside Abbey so I listened again and… I love it. In fact, I like it so much that I ordered their previous 1996 CD The Abbey. What I failed to notice before is the smooth and cohesive singing from this choir. It puts me in mind of a pipe organ, each voice like a pipe, each unique but made of the same metal, all one unit.
I really like the cathedral echo in every piece that makes me feel as if I have traveled back in time, taking refuge inside the walls of cool stone to let the magic voices lift my spirit. There really is something magical about it all.
Most of the pieces are plainchant, such as Ave Maris Stella, Viderunt Omnes and Sub Tuum Praesidium. They are alternated with pieces by Byrd, Charles Wood, Gabrieli and others. Most are sung by men’s voices but the best ones include the boys. I stand by my original statement that there should be fewer monks and more choirboys, but the men do sound magnificent.
It seems odd that there are only these two recordings from the Monks and Choirboys of Downside Abbey. I’ve been to their web shop and there are no others except for a couple of CD’s of organ music and another choir of some sort. They do have the section called Ask A Monk so maybe I’ll ask them to do something new.