dda 25077
Gramophone magazine Editor's Choice CD October 2009
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This CD stands on its own merits as an exceptional programme of early sacred music, transcribed for and performed by the etherially beautiful voices of Musica Secreta and Celestial Sirens. However, like their earlier CD (dda25062) it has an added rationale, as the 'virtual sound-track' to the superb new novel 'Sacred Hearts', by Sarah Dunant. The music on the CD refers directly to many of the scenes and events in the book, allowing the reader/listener to more fully absorb themselves into the ancient world and characters so wonderfully portrayed.

'Sacred Hearts' is published in the UK by Virago, and in the USA by Random House. The book and CD have been heavily featured in the media in the UK including BBC Radio 'Woman's Hour' , the South bank Festival and so on.



AUDIO SAMPLE: Sequenza in onore di Sant'Agnese






Missa Veni Sponsa Christi
Surge illuminare Ierusalem
Alma redemptoris mater
Lamentations for Holy Saturday
Magnificat in sexti toni
Regina caeli laetare
Cantabant sancti canticum novum
Beata Agnes in medio flammarum
Amo Christum, in cuius thalamum introivi
Agnes, beata Virginis
Sequenza in onore Sant'Agnese
Stans beata Agnes in medio flammarum


BOOK AND CD COMBO: ONLY $34.75 INSTEAD OF $40.99 buy one  
review extracts: for full reviews click here
‘Could be habit forming, but it's an addiction that is entirely beneficial. The contents of ‘Sacred Hearts and Secret Music' are sung with an unpretentious artistry that allows the music to make maximum impact on the listener. It deserves to be heard by the widest possible audience; it is a most notable addition to the recorded canon of sacred music” – Neville Cohn (Oz Arts Review)

“The ornamentation...sounds both natural and beautiful... an aural feast. Magical.” – Richard Lawrence (Gramophone)
EDITORS CHOICE CD – OCTOBER 2009 Editors comment: "A sense of scholarship as well as intense musicality runs through the whole: fascinating and lovely" - James Inverne}

“Ethereally beautiful, haunting music, performed with grace and sincerity” – John Pitt (New Classics)
“The music is interesting, beautifully sung and well recommended” – Early Music Today

“Compelling album of music...irresistible, and thanks to the honest-to-goodness sound of the recording and unaffected music-making, mercifully free from artificial additives. Strongly recommended (5 stars) – AS (Classic FM Magazine)

“It is lovely to hear so many monadic settings for the Feast of St. Agnes, who serves as an inspiration for nuns; their chants vary from simple plainsong to more elaborate settings... Musica Secreta's performance of Palestrina's Mass Veni Sponsa Christi... is equally beautiful. The Palestrina settings on this CD are very effective and Musica Secreta amply demonstrates that this music can be performed by women alone.” – Elizabeth Rees (The Consort)
“Made quite an impact to listeners [of the BBC Radio 4 serialisation of the Sacred Hearts novel]... and immensely relaxing experience from a highly professional group” – Peter Spaull (Liverpool Daily Post)
“[Music Secreta are an] excellent ensemble.... the CD wins out through pure sound, fervour and refreshing simplicity” – Fiona Maddocks (The Observer)
“This recording will appeal to different people for one or more of a variety of reasons; if you sit back and listen to some beautiful singing, the {Palestrina Mass] certainly makes the recording very worthwhile. De Rore's Magnificat too receives an attractive performance. The beautiful performances of the Holy Saturday Lamentations..life-enhancing music, designed to lift the soul. The recording is very good, with great clarity... the presentation is attractive... the notes are informative. This new recording is a worthy addition to Musica Secreta's discography and to the catalogue in general.” – Brian Wilson (MusicWeb)
“There is surely no ensemble better equipped intellectually to unlock this cloistered performance practice that Musica Secreta. Their versions of Palestrina et al are convincing... fascinating from the historical point of view, and a curiosity for the collector” – Rebecca Tavener (Choir & Organ)

“The effect [in the Mass] is light, lovely, beautifully rendered by six women on the four vocal parts... the most interesting chant is the sequence for St. Agnes. Altogether, this is an offbeat program of considerable interest, not exactly comparable to competitive versions of the music.” - J F Weber (Fanfare)

“Sensitively imagined and vividly realized interpretations... remarkably delicate but with a kind of muscular dignity that is extremely moving” – Robert Levett (International Record Review)

“Musica Secreta has a homogenous sound. Individual voices are restrained and integrated into the whole of the sound.; these are the top principles for the performers. The pieces mostly flow well... the sound is well structured. Under the competent leadership of Deborah Roberts and Laurie Stras, the interpretation works well.” – Mathias Lange (Klassik.com)