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CD booklet
O Poore Distracted World

BBC Music Magazine
November 1, 2012

Taking its title from the seventh of Coprario's Funeral Teares, Les Voix Baroques mine a rich seam of English melancholy, including powerful Purcell.
Paul Riley - BBC Music Magazine

The Globe and Mail
September 21, 2012


If it’s true that sad music pacifies the spirit, then one could hardly do better than this marvellous wallow in English melancholia: anthems by such 17th century English masters of the doleful as Henry Purcell, John Blow and Matthew Locke, in a rich mix of styles. Some are simple hymns; others seem closer to the continental madrigal tradition; others still have plaintive instrumental accompaniments. Two versions of the Biblical story of Saul and Samuel’s ghost, by Robert Ramsey and Purcell, respectively, resemble operatic miniatures, while William Croft’s expansive anthem is almost a cantata in the Lutheran mold. These are gorgeous performances – stylish, nuanced and beautifully recorded. We cheer up – as does the music – by the end of the disc.

Elissa Poole - The Globe and Mail
September 3, 2012

 17th century English poet Robert Burton’s famous The Anatomy of Melancholy was just one of many literary works exploring the causes and various manifestations of the malady. English composers of the time were equally obsessed, and O Poore Distracted World!, this excellent recording by Le Voix Baroques under the direction of Alexander Weimann, presents songs and sacred anthems offering a look “the English disease.”

A dozen somber songs and anthems might seem like tough going, but Le Voix Baroques have put together such a richly eclectic program that you never feel like you are wallowing in bottomless gloom. The album offers a mix of familiar and lesser-known composers. There are three Purcell works, a marvelous Matthew Locke anthem and some fine music by John Blow, William Croft and Thomas Weelkes. But the rarely heard composers have much to offer too. John Coperario’s “O poore distracted world,” extracted from his collection Funeral Tears, is a perfect little madrigal for two sopranos, alto, tenor bass and continuo. The album features two settings of the Bible story of Saul and the Witch of Endor, (an example of religious melancholy), one by Purcell and the other by Robert Ramsay. The Ramsay setting is most haunting, especially its gorgeous closing chorus. Of music by familiar composers, the exuberant “Rejoice in the Lord” by William Croft stands out. Its colorful instrumental prelude sets the stage for some extravagant vocal writing with a number of verses punctuated by solo oboe and strings.

The six vocalists of Les Voix Baroques are outstanding, whether they are singing solo verses or joined in a beautiful blend, like in Thomas Lupo’s “O Lord come pity my complaint,” their tone is ever pure and clear. Special praise to soprano Shannon Mercer, tenor Charles Daniels and bass Robert MacDonald who make Purcell’s anthem “In Guilty Night” (a Saul and Witch of Endor scene) a dramatic high point of the album.

ATMA Classique’s typically fine audiophile sound presents voices and instruments with plenty of warmth and detail. While the theme of this album might be somewhat off-putting, trust yourself to the beauty of the music and the excellence of the performances and you will be amply rewarded.

Craig Zeichner -

Musical Toronto
August 28, 2012

The title of this album has nothing to do with texting while driving, or trying to respond to email while standing in line at the grocery checkout. Instead, it is all about channeling sadness and melancholy into a musical, spiritual plane.

Before bouncy Herr Handel came along in the 18th century, English people loved a good, sad art song (like one of John Dowland’s many) or church anthem. For the singer and listener, it can be cathartic to plumb deep emotions. For instrumentalists and composers, it’s an excuse to subtly explore the limits of their craft.

Montreal countertenor Matthew White and his (not so merry here) band Les Voix Baroques have pulled together 12 anthems that explore — and redeem — a person rejected or dejected.

There are three pieces by the master of English music from the early Baroque, Henry Purcell (1659-1695), as well as selections from Matthew Locke (1622-1677), John Blow (1649-1708) and Thomas Weelkes (1576-1623) and composers lesser known outside the Anglican church, including John Coperario (named Cooper until he got all fancy and Italian), who supplies the funeral meditation that gave this album its title.

There are tremendous solo singers at work here, including wonderful Toronto soprano Shannon Mercer. Tenor Charles Daniels and baritone Tyler Duncan are regular concert guests in this city. Alexander Weimann directs a small period-instrument consort with subtle skill.

According to the liner notes, this recording has sat unpublished for three years, so it’s great to finally have it out.

John Terauds - Musical Toronto