Into the Light is something of a departure for Harry Christophers and the Sixteen, the British mixed ensemble specializing in vocal music of the Renaissance. In this album they join forces with guitarist Kaori Muraji in a program made up of a variety of risky-sounding arrangements, including an abbreviated choral version of Pachelbel's Canon in D to a text by Oscar Wilde, and a section of Borodin's Polovtsian Dances with guitar accompaniment, in addition to a few unaltered Renaissance works. Perhaps it should not be surprising that a group as distinguished as the Sixteen and a conductor of such impeccable taste as Christophers is able to bring off this kind of daring enterprise with such success. There is no cheesiness in evidence at all,Read more and even the most dubious ventures, such as Villa-Lobos' Bachianas Brasilieras No. 5, originally for voice and eight celli, arranged here for chorus and guitar, are fully persuasive. This is largely due to the skillful and ingenious arrangements of Bob Chilcott, a fine composer in his own right. Credit also must go to the Sixteen and Christophers for their beautifully nuanced and vocally pure performances. Muraji's playing is self-effacing or flamboyantly virtuosic, as the music requires, and she shines in several solos. Among the most effective pieces are the Pachelbel/Wilde Canon, the Villa-Lobos, and a lusty arrangement of Gaspar Fernandez's A negrito de cucurumbé. Decca's sound is clean and ideally balanced. This might be classified as a crossover album, a genre that flirts with the possibility of being unsatisfactory to audiences on either side of the divide it's intended to straddle, but this is the rare album that ought to be pleasing to both.
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