Heavenly Spheres – The London Sound Gallery
The i Newspaper, Alexandra Coghlan | November 2020
★★★★ – “Bold, beautiful music at the junction of Sound and Science.”
“Concerts of contemporary music are traditionally a hard sell, and it’s been one of the unexpected pleasures of the current digital pay-per-view landscape that performers can experiment, trusting their audience to take risks a venue or festival might not. Here it paid off, in an exhilarating sequence of works by Dobrinka Tabakova, Tim Watts and Richard Rodney Bennett that each mused on astronomy, physics and their relation to the divine.”
Technically daunting and mercurial in mood, the Watts is a touchstone for a young group with serious skills – probably the best all-male ensemble this side of the King’s Singers. With a wonderfully clean alto sound and plenty of low bass to keep things anchored, The Gesualdo Six and artistic director Owain Park made a strong case for these unfamiliar works, framing them thoughtfully with polyphony by Lassus and Josquin – the latter’s Tu solus qui facis mirabilia … an exquisite moment of simplicity and stillness after so many musical equations.”
Limelight Magazine, Lisa MacKinney | August 2020
★★★★★ – “Gesualdo Six kicks it out of the park with this flawless recording.”
“Like its predecessor, Fading consists of a cappella works taken almost entirely from two eras: the Renaissance and the present day. This is not the most obvious combination nor easiest to pull off successfully, but Fading is, happily, a triumph on multiple fronts.
“O Ecclesia is ephemeral and transcendent, an elusive melody that curls away from a low drone and evaporates; a vision so brief one might doubt its existence at all. It is a truly extraordinary, heart-stopping moment.
“These performances are superb: precision, warmth, power and delicacy united in an utterly beguiling whole, all the while maintaining perfect definition as each vocal tonality inhabits its own sphere.”
Classics Today, David Vernier – 10/10
“I assure you that you’ve never heard [If ye love me] quite like this, the two tenors, baritone, and bass, slow, smooth, sensuous, the harmonies resonating in the vocal realm as the perfectly carved and cured woods of ideally matched violas and cellos. It’s a very special two minutes and 44 seconds that you will be sure to repeat.
“I really enjoyed this disc, for its smart programming and exceptional, often very moving performances. The sound, of finely tuned and beautifully balanced male voices, will move you as well, as it so affectingly captures this very special music, whether known or newly experienced.“
Music Frames, Mattie Poels | August 2020
“The British, traditionally masters in performing vocal polyphonic (early) music, also excel in optima forma on the new album by The Gesualdo Six.
“These vocalists have an incredibly beautiful and majestic unanimity in the performance, in which they excellent shows the respect for these wonderful compositions.
“An absolute must-have!”
MusicWeb International, Mike Parr | June 2020
“The program has been very well thought out and divided for contrasting atmosphere of the works.
“Throughout the disc the musicians sing with splendid attention to detail; each voice is a shimmering thread that is woven into the dense tapestry of sound they create. There is a delicate musical balance that they maintain throughout all of the works that only increases my admiration for this group and Hyperion’s commitment to promote their exemplary work. Hyperion’s engineers have excelled in a recording of demonstration quality.
Choir and Organ Magazine, Brian Morton | April 2020
“Combining Tallis and Gesualdo with modern/contemporary composers such as Sarah Rimkus and Gerda Blok-Wilson and the late Veljo Tormis can be tricky for an ensemble, but The Gesualdo Six and Owain Park are fearless and have shaped a programme that almost plays out as a composed sequence. The singing is impeccable…
“A wonderful recording.”
BBC Radio 3 Record Review, Anna Lapwood & Andrew McGregor | 18 April 2020
“I think The Gesualdo Six and Owain Park are just incredible at this ingenious programming, so there’s this melding of renaissance polyphony with contemporary choral music.
“I feel it’s a very classy way to look at music by female composers that people might not know… It’s just extremely good all woven together with this thread of music for night-time, music for compline.
“Blend and intonation really are [impeccable]… You can tell this is a group that work together almost constantly, they know each other’s voices so well… solo singing with a really clear sensitivity of ensemble.
“A beautiful recording.”
Fading – Editor’s Choice
Gramophone Magazine, Alexandra Coghlan | April 2020
“Ingeniously programmed and impeccably delivered, with that undefinable excitement that comes from a group of musicians working absolutely as one, The Gesualdo Six’s ‘Fading’ is startlingly, urgently excellent. If their first album (‘English Motets’, 4/18) pricked up the ears and their second (‘Christmas’, 12/19) confirmed their talent, this third recording from the young all-male vocal ensemble feels like an arrival, showing us exactly what this group is capable of.
“The quality of the singing – the blend and bass-anchored balance, the rounded, unforced tone, the control from solo voices – is exhilarating.
“The Gesualdo Six are the real deal. Far from fading, they’re just coming into focus.”
Winthrop Hall – Perth Festival – English Motets
“The whole program moved forward by alternating between homophonic and polyphonic textures; between relative simplicity and complexity; between relaxation and tension… The effect was as mesmerising as the almost inexplicable contrast between the purity, clarity and beauty of the singing on the one hand and its affective ferocity on the other. The code-shifting between plain English and luxuriant Latin only intensified this effect.
“Suddenly the Gesualdos introduced a heightened sense of drama with Thomas Tomkins’ searing, plangent lament When David Heard, King David’s grief over the loss of his son Absalom made palpable – the spirit made flesh – through extraordinary word-painting. This was perhaps the concert’s high point, at least in sheer emotional punch.
“Byrd’s sonorous, joyful Laudate pueri Dominum and Vigilate – the single encore – brought this unforgettable concert to a ringing conclusion.”
Winthrop Hall – Perth Festival – Ancient Voices
“When The Gesualdo Six – a consort of young male singers from Trinity College, Cambridge – stepped on stage and began singing William Byrd’s “Miserere Mihi Domine”, it felt as though time had stopped. The purity of their voices, the smoothness of their ensemble. They were bathed in a warm, yellow glow that seemed to descend from heaven itself while the audience surrounded them in darkness. It really was miraculous – a woman sitting across from me had her mouth agape in wonder for a good two minutes.”
St. Quirinius Münster – Neuss
“Die Idee von Klang in verschiedenen Farben hat bei dem Ensemble große Bedeutung. Von unterschiedlichen Standpunkten in der Quirinuskirche wurden die Werke präsentiert. Der Bariton Michael Craddock sang vor dem Hauptaltar solo „The Truth sent from Above“, das Ralph Vaughan Williams 1909 aufgezeichnet hat und Owain Park für Gesualdo Six eingerichtet hat, während seine Kollegen in den Seitenschiffen orgelgleiche Akkorde summten. Arvo Pärts vierstimmiges „Morning Star“ erklang vom hohen Umgang über dem Quirinusschrein. Das zweite der „Three Carols“ für A-cappella-Chor von Gustav Holst wurde in Versen und Refrain von unterschiedlichsten Stellen der Kirche intoniert. Dazwischen erklang in wunderbarer Schlichtheit „Es ist ein Ros‘ entsprungen“ im vierstimmigen Satz von Michael Praetorius. Das war in makellosem Deutsch gesungen wie auch die Zugabe „Maria durch ein’ Dornwald ging“, die ein sehr schönes Adventskonzert beendete.”
Choir and Organ Magazine | December 2019
“The close recording of the Male voice line-up of The Gesualdo Six on Christmas reveals the tightness of their ensemble in repertoire ranging from Praetorius to Cheryl Frances-Hoad. Tenor Joseph Wicks’ a cappella arrangement of Jonathan Harvey’s The Annnunciation and director Owain Park’s vibrant On the Infancy of our Saviour compliment well-chosen pieces, making for a delightful and informative listening experience – and a thoughtful stocking filler!”
St. Andrew’s Voices Festival 2019
St. Andrews Radio | October 2019
“The standout moment of the evening was definitely the interjection of stunning live music performed by The Gesualdo Six. As the pre-recorded music and visuals tapered off in unison, the group began to sing in the relative darkness, illuminated only with small, white lights. It sent goosebumps down my arms.”
Cambridge Summer Music Festival – Our Lady and the English Martyrs
Cambridge Independent, John Gilroy | July 2019
“From the opening notes of Thomas Tallis’s ‘Te lucis ante terminum’, sung by a lone counter tenor, the concert’s audience was enthralled by the beauties that the human voice is capable of creating.
“The ensemble was consistently immaculate in its presentation of the varied programme which included some rarities from the Renaissance … as well as striking examples of modern compositions.”
Harrogate Festival – St Wilfrid’s Church
Yorkshire Times, Steve Whitaker | July 2019
“The expert calibration of the Renaissance pieces foregrounded personal skill without compromising general integrity.
“Gesualdo Six’s short history – they were founded as recently as 2014 – is an object lesson in warranted ascendancy. Much travelled, broadcast and recorded, the peripatetic Cambridge-based ensemble’s enormous success resides in its forward-looking eclecticism and manifestly pre-eminent quality. The Harrogate Arts Festival ‘Concert by Candlelight’ strand could not have procured the services of finer exponents of sacred music.”
Robert Hugill | March 2019
“This eclectic programme made a terrific showcase for the talents of the Gesualdo Six as they moved with ease from Renaissance to Contemporary music.
“The group’s first ever concert featured, of course, Gesualdo and at Cadogan Hall they included three of the composer’s Tenebrae Responsories: … Vibrantly communicative performances with moments of great control, intensity and eruptions of violence, which brought out the drama of the music.”
Catholic Herald, Francis O’Gorman | January 2019
“One of the most striking features of this ensemble is that they produce the illusion of being one voice: the coherence of the sound, and the disciplined expressiveness from the top to the bottom line, result in a kind of sonic unity that is distinctive and compelling.
“Among the choral ensembles of the present, who move us with their insightful readings of masterworks from the Renaissance, the Gesualdo Six are already making their mark.”
Cathedral Music Magazine, Timothy Storey | November 2018
“…this is a CD of rare quality, the very first note arresting our attention with a countertenor tone of great beauty.
“…a beatific smile of pure enjoyment as we listened to this admirably constructed programme: and we agreed that we had never heard better performances of the three Byrd motets, Vigilate being sung with great energy and dramatic power, and Civitas sancti tui, the magnificent second part of Ne irascaris, given at a properly slow tempo with great pathos and expression.
“There is not a bad track anywhere… I have no hesitation in recommending this as an anthology of the highest quality, excellently sung and recorded.”
Świdnica Bach Festival
Świdnica24 | August 2018
“Although the ensemble has only been performing together for four years, they have managed to gain much public recognition in Europe.
“The ensemble is made up of gifted English singers whose reputation brought many willing audience members on Friday evening to St Joseph’s Church – which was completely full. Music lovers were enthralled by the beautiful performance of renaissance polyphony.”
Delft Chamber Music Festival
Artstalk Magazine, Holland, Astrid Burchardt | August 2018
“The Gesualdo Six… managed to extract every drop of emotion, colour and drama from the music.
“Special mention must go to Owain Park, the conductor, who at one point seemed to draw the heavenly sounds out of the singer’s mouths with a simple gesture of his fingers. With the voices soaring and interweaving high above us, it occurred to me that it was no wonder that in centuries past, congregations sitting in the first gothic cathedrals, believed in angels.”
Christchurch Cathedral – Victoria, BC
Elizabeth Courtney | July 2018
“This eclectic programme was characterized throughout by the sublime ease and deep familiarity these singers brought to their performance.
“The slow grace and stillness, combined with the marriage of sound and meaningful text which allowed their voices to so effortlessly fill a space that has challenged many larger groups suggests a vintage with a very long life ahead of it.”
The Royal School of Church Music, Stuart Robinson | June 2018
“…theirs is a silky, smooth, fresh sound, and, with just a handful of singers, there’s an intimacy of performance not possible with larger numbers. There’s some nifty singing on this CD – Byrd’s Vigilate is a case in point – and, by contrast, warmth and richness in works such as John Sheppard’s Libera nos, salva nos.
“With comprehensive, scholarly CD notes from Owain Park, this is an excellent collection.”
BBC Music Magazine, Paul Riley | June 2018
Performance ★★★★★ — Recording ★★★★★
“…while the title can’t be faulted on grounds of accuracy, ‘English Motets’ gives little hint of the glorious treasure trove lurking within.
“Weavers of rich and plangent aural tapestries, The Gesualdo Six meld style and substance with beguiling sure-footedness. An auspicious debut.”
Diapason | May Edition 2018
Five Diapasons – For a first recording, this is a superb success
“The young English sextet succeeds, from the very first moments, to capture the attention by imposing a new and very particular voice. An original way of singing these polyphonies, which combines an absolute technical perfection – intonation, diction – with an intimate, enveloping and soft sound. So at the antipodes of the clamour chosen by The Cardinall’s Musick with the same number of singers.
“If the individual voices are always recognizable, the overall sound blends in with a superb homogeneity. We appreciate the magnitude of the expressive spectrum covered by this anthology, and the impressive capacity of The Gesualdo Six to create contrasted climates, from the deepest recollection (Ne Irascaris) to the jubilant vigor (Vigilate).”
BBC Record Review, Andrew MacGregor | April 2018
“This selection of English motets proves to be a fine showcase for their clear voices, immaculate intonation and a certain instinct for the drama and intensity of the repertoire, as they explore the extraordinary journey that composition took around the English Reformation.”
The Daily Telegraph | April 2018
★★★★★ Spellbound by a medley of mighty motets
“The genre [motets] flourished mightily in England, as it did all over Europe, and Owain Park, the director of young vocal group The Gesualdo Six has set out to represent the English kind in all its variety.
“It’s an ambitious aim for a single CD – but Park pulls it off. The blend and tuning of the voices is so fine that the group achieves a powerfully full sound.
“The sheer beauty of the group’s sound in lofty high-Renaissance style pieces like Byrd’s Miserere is spellbinding. The fine-grained texture of solo voices allows us to savour the amazing harmonic pungency of English sacred music, which at times seems almost modernist. It is a wonderful achievement.”
Gramophone | April 2018
“The vocal quality is very fine, not to say superb, and when the music calls for an extrovert approach (as do Byrd’s Vigilate or, very differently, Dunstable’s four-voice Veni Sancte Spiritus) the singers respond with an athleticism and a feel for pacing that isn’t perhaps so common. The close miking does justice to the contrapuntal details, maintaining clarity in all but the densest writing.”
St John’s Smith Square Holy Week Festival: Fading
Ian Louis Harris | March 2018
“What a super short concert it was. Indeed, the opening number, Tallis’s Te Lucis Ante Terminum, was worth the price of admission alone.”
Temple Winter Festival
Claire Seymour | December 2017
“The programme juxtaposed the traditional with the modern and the Gesualdo Six switched between the two with admirable ease.”
Seen and Heard International | November 2017
“The Gesualdo Six are outstanding, shifting impeccably from Renaissance polyphony to twenty-first century music.”
Brighton Early Music Festival
Andrew Connal | November 2017
“Tallis’ Whitsuntide motet ‘Loquebantur variis linguis’ delivered a confident opening which was followed by Alonso Lobo’s heart-rending ‘Versa est in luctum’ where they really started to show their sensitivity and refinement. This reached amazing levels of precision ensemble and vocal colour in Ligeti’s ‘Nonsense Madrigals’ and again in Chilcott’s playful arrangement of ‘Greensleeves’, in which they sang the piano part too!”
Tage Alter Musik Regensburg
Andrew Benson-Wilson | June 2017
“The late night (10.45pm) concert in the Schottenkirche St. Jakob (with its extraordinary sculptures) was given by the young British a cappella vocal group The Gesualdo Six, directed by Owain Park, making their German debut with their programme Journey through the Music of the English Masters. With composers ranging from Dunstable to Tomkins they explored some of the finest music ever produced from the British Isles in a well-balanced and varied programme. They were particularly good at the distinctively English false relations heard in Taverner’s Quemadmodum and Loquebantur from Tallis, the master of such scrunchy harmonic twists and turns. His cadence on Alleluia must be amongst the most beautiful in the history of music, almost equalled by the final cadence of his Suscipe quaeso Domine. These pieces were contrasted by the relative simplicity of Sheppard’s Libera nos II and White’s Christe, qui lux es et dies. The emotional intensity and changes in volume in, for example, Byrd’s Vigilate, were well handled, sounding completely natural to the music. The two countertenors, Guy James and Alex Chance were very impressive. The audience response was particularly enthusiastic, and rightly so.”
Gesualdo: Tenebrae Responsories for Maundy Thursday
The Tablet, Rick Jones | February 2016
“…The Gesualdo Six have everything going for them – talent, youth, stamina, confidence and years of experience of singing the most difficult vocal polyphony in the repertoire. The three pairs of altos, tenors and basses who make up this new ensemble are recent graduates from Cambridge chapel choirs, now practising as freelance professional singers.
“Just days before the start of Lent, they sang with utter conviction, perfect intonation, impeccable blend, just balance and even a little humour Gesualdo’s Tenebrae Responsories for Maundy Thursday.
“…They created the stillness and peace of night in the hushed awe that greeted each Responsory. They sang the Latin as if it were a second language, making sense of what are reactions to the specified readings from Lamentations and Corinthians…
“The blend is superb; but the line-up consists of soloists who will surely also appear as Evangelists, lieder singers or lute-song recitalists in time.
“The group resembles The King’s Singers 50 years on except that they have a conductor. Owain Park moulded the beat with fluency and a sense of momentum.”
Olivia Bell | March 2015
What was immediately clear from the first plainsong, sung hauntingly by Michael Craddock, was the effortless poise of the group; here is a choir that brings the same stillness to their demeanour as to their most quiet, gentle passages, and the professionalism shown by all six singers both during and between responses was impressive for what is on paper, though not in sound, effectively an amateur ensemble.
Each vocal part showed control and dexterity that blended with the next, but in particular Hiroshi Amako’s plaintive ‘Mellius illi erat’ during the sixth Responsary was deeply moving. At times you felt like there were a hundred voices; at others, only one.
The communication between each vocal part added to the wonderful sense of line throughout the work.
…what Owain Park and the singers have managed to achieve is an ensemble with extraordinary potential, who stand head and shoulders above any other vocal group in Cambridge, and who surely have a promising future ahead.