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O Nata lux

Ultra High Fidelity Magazine
7 avril 2010

Tired of the usual Christmas recordings, featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; I'll Be Home for Christmas and (back, choke!) The Little Drummer Boy? Relief is at hand. Over the holidays, put on this CD, and hit the "repeat" button.

It's my experience that the less talent singers have, the more the (presumably desperate) producers feel the need to pile on the massed strings, the jingle bells, and the percussion. On the other hand, if you have a number of truly talented singers, competently conducted, you don't need accompaniment at all. Those are the winning conditions on this recording, which features a dozen singers (three each of sopranos, altos, tenors and basses), in Christmas songs you may not hear over shopping mall loudspeakers. 

Musica Intima (the name says it) is a Vancouver choral ensemble that doesn't always sing a capella, nor is it specialized in traditional music. It has in fact premiered a number of works of new Canadian composers. On this recording their arrangements, often in canon form, are so well done that you may get two or three songs in before you realize that there is no accompaniment.

Though the CD begins with the familiar In Dulci Jubilo, and it includes Ce matin, j'ai rencontré le train (if you can't place the title, the melody will be instantly recognizable as The March of the Kings), there are much newer pieces as well. Benjamin Britten contributed two: Jesu, as Thou Art Our Saviour and A Hymn to the Virgin. Gabriel's Message is a unique arrangement of a traditional Basque carol by Jonathan Rathbone, former director of the scat singing group The Swingle Singers. Sing Lullaby meshes perfectly with traditional music, though its flowing verses are from 20th Century composer Herbert Howells. Adam Lay Ybounden features a telling of a chapter of the book of Genesis, probably from a 15th Century wandering minstrel, with wholly appropriate music by modern composer Matthew Larkin. 

The voices of these singers are a pleasure to hear. Recorded by Anne-Marie Sylvestre at a church in Mirabel, Québec, that has been used for many exceptional recordings, it sounds very fine too, with a lot of space around the singers. 

With Christmas coming up, it may be time to retire Bing Crosby. 

Gerard Rejskind - Ultra High Fidelity Magazine

The Whole Note
7 février 2009

These CDs are by far the two  the two best Canadian Christmas choral recordings heard from this year's offerings. Vancouver's Musica Intima, a l2-voice a capella ensemble perform seasonal gems, some modern, some ancient with fresh arrangements, many by the members themselves, and selections by Willan, Howells and Britten. The purity of sound, perfect intonation and ethereal quality of the tonalities evoke an often-mystical experience throughout the album. Yet this sound is not without the warm, lush harmonies representing the heart's fires kindled by love at yuletide. Add to this a shimmering, luminous quality suggesting an angelic presence and all the elements of Christmas are perfectly awakened. 

Dianne Wells- The Whole Note

1 janvier 2009

 Musica Intima est l'une des chorales les plus intéressantes de l'heure. Formé de 12 choristes solistes.  l'ensemble de Vancouver se produit sans chef, ce qui exige un travail méticuleux dans l 'interprétation et une communication de tous les instants. ll aime faire découvrir de belles pages de jeunes compositeurs peu connus. Britten excepté, c'est le cas ici. Un disque de Noël pas banal.

Véronique Robert - L'Actualité