Viola da Gamba Society of America
March 1, 2009
Star of the Magi features arrangements of sixteen and seventeenth-century carols by Susie Napper, who is in full flood of artistic creativity and imagination here. Suzie LeBlanc and Danier Taylor sing beautifully as always, but this is far from a happy sing-along. For our purposes it is fascinating to observe how the gambas are used on this CD. (...) By far, the most fantastic setting is the Spanish carol "Riu riu chiu", set for two bass viols in full flamenco guitar mode. In a wonderful performance, you can almost hear clicking castanets and tapping spike heels. Ole!
Elizabeth MacDonald - Viola da Gamba Society of America
American Record Guide
November 1, 2006
Surprise! Les Voix Humaines are instrumentalists (two violas da gamba, recorder, lute, and percussion). Well, technically Les Voix Humaines are a viola da gamba duo (Susie Napper and Margaret Little). The other musicians join the two. And their program is a total delight! 12 selections arranged in a Medieval-Renaissance style of keen imagination. Even such traditional carols as 'There is No Rose of Such Virtue', 'Ding, Dong! Merrily on High', and the 'Coventry Carol' sound fresh and new. An aggressive arrangement of 'Riu Riu Chiu' for two bass viols is a spectacular example of the five instrumental selections. The two bass viols return with a big bell added to bring excitement to Nicholas Lebeque's 'Les Cloches'. What particularly catches the ear is the opulent, mellow sound of the instruments -even the recorder (Francis Colpron). Fitting in perfectly to this exquisite tonal tapestry is countertenor Daniel Taylor, one of the most beautiful CT voices I have heard. Sometimes he sounds like a viola, silken smooth with grace and gentle style. He gets two solos and two duets with soprano Suzie LeBlanc, who perfectly blends with him. She also gets some solos of her own. This was recorded in 1999, so it may be a reissue. Good. This is one Christmas release that is a keeper!
Parsons - Amercian Record Guide
December 23, 2000
As many times as I've heard the medieval carol "There is no rose", it still works its mysterious magic--and especially so when performed as beautifully as it is on this must-have Christmas recording from the Quebec based ATMA label. Daniel Taylor not only is one of the world's top countertenors (along with Andreas Scholl and David Daniels), but simply is one of the world's top singers, period. And his singing partner here, soprano Suzie Le Blanc, has no superior in the realm of early music. Together, these two are a marvel--not only in the aforementioned "There is no rose", but also in their ideally interpreted and perfectly tuned "Nowell: Dieu vous garde" duet. And on their own, as in Taylor's heartrending delivery of Byrd's "Lullaby, my sweet little baby" and Le Blanc's tender and passionate "Une jeune pucelle", they are unforgettable. The instrumental accompaniments and solo offerings are equally fine, especially the work of lutenist Sylvain Bergeron, a world-class master of early and baroque style, whose contributions are invariably tasteful and imaginative. Also appearing are Susie Napper and
Margaret Little, who have made a respectable name for themselves as Les Voix Humaines, a viola da gamba duo--a unique niche if ever there were one! The program is a well-chosen and intelligently organized selection of early carols and dances directly associated with the
celebration of Christmas, made even more appealing by skillful, enticing arrangements that include viols, recorder, lute, drum, bells, and percussion. The sound is remarkable for its realism. Be prepared to be convinced that these performers are right in the room with you!
David Vernier - ClassicsToday.com