The Seven Lamentations: Cristóbal De Morales
Utopia - KTC 1538. Etcetera Records
Founded just a year ago, Utopia are among the proliferating number of young ensembles to combine a softer continental sound with steely accuracy in one-per-part Renaissance polyphony. The result, according to their tag line, is ‘Belgian handmade polyphony’. The singers have between them a respectable heritage including Collegium Vocale Gent, Nederlands Bach Society and Huelgas Ensemble to name but a few, and in terms of sound they are similar to the ensemble Beauty Farm, with whom they share two singers.
A relatively recent recording of three sections of these lamentations by The Brabant Ensemble calls for a comparison. As Fabrice Fitch observed in this magazine, The Brabant Ensemble have a high ‘centre of acoustic gravity’ in renaissance polyphony (Jacquet of Mantua review, June 2015) that I feel lends sheen to their sound. Utopia, conversely, have a much lower centre of gravity yet maintain similar clarity whilst simultaneously warming the texture with soft Flemish-tinged vowel sounds. The results are beautiful, intimate and thoroughly engaging.
To read the full text of this article please visit www.gramophone.co.uk (2016: Awards Issue)