Stile Antico Renders 16th-Century Music Beautifully "Music for Compline," a recording by the vocal ensemble Stile Antico, features music written in 16th-century England for a religious service called Compline. Reviewer Tom Manoff calls Stile Antico one of the finest choral ensembles of our day.

Stile Antico Renders 16th-Century Music Beautifully

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Stile Antico is a new English vocal ensemble that came into the spotlight for singing with pop star Sting.

A new CD features the group on its own. It's called "Music for Compline." And Tom Manoff has the review.

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TOM MANOFF: Imagine a time when people believe that planets produced melodies as they move through the sky. And music sounded like this.

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MANOFF: All the works on this recording were composed in 16th-century England for a religious service called Compline. The music of the Compline service was meant to calm the spirit at the end of the day. Some of England's greatest composers wrote music for this evening ritual, among them, Thomas Tallis.

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MANOFF: Sixteenth-century England was an era of violent religious upheaval; a time when singing the wrong music might be considered treason. So listening to such peaceful music composed in a culture of such violence is especially compelling.

Here's music by William Byrd.

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MANOFF: I've heard countless recordings of 16th-century English music, but this one's a knockout.

One reason may be that these young singers have no conductor, so the interpretations develop organically. While they can sing a particular harmony with a perfectly blended color, they also allow individual melodies within the texture to sound gloriously independent.

The effect is somehow exhilarating and calming at the same time.

Stile Antico is easily the finest choral ensemble to come along in many years.

BLOCK: The CD by Stile Antico is called "Music for Compline." Our reviewer is Tom Manoff.

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