The English Renaissance master Byrd, William and the Baltic innovator Arvo Pärt have much more in common than just one-syllable last names. Both draw on the compositional technique of the Middle Ages and Renaissance and are featured together on this recording by the Calefax Reed Quintet, a one-of-a- kind Dutch wind ensemble. Their music also finds a strong vocal advocate in this splendid performance by the countertenor Kai Wessel.
When it comes to melody, the uncompromising linear clarity and chamber-style flexibility enjoyed by reed instruments give them a big advantage over choirs and orchestras. Even hard-liners form the historical performance camp are swept away by the beauty and brilliance with which the phenomenal Calefax five bring new zest to well-known and much-performed works from Bach to Berg.
Accomplished wind virtuosity is what makes the sacred sublimity of these compositions by Byrd and Pärt into genuine sound orgies in which the beauty of Kai Wessel’s countertenor voice seems to shine like a radiant, solitary light. Pärt’s medieval compositional techniques and the meditativeness of his deeply religious music delight the ear in this elegant blending of the purest reed sound and supreme vocal mastery.
Specialists in tune
InTune summed up Calefax’ art as „Crazy but delightful!“ MDG has been releasing a Calefax CD collection for the ensemble’s increasing following since 1995. Calefax was honored with the Philip Morris Award in March 1997 for its extraordinary contributions to the arts. Kai Wessel, known far and wide as a countertenor on the international early music scene, has performed with all the ranking specialists in the field of historical performance practice and is a regular guest at renowned festivals worldwide.