Review: Stile Antico ****

At Great Hall, Leeds University

In the few years since their success in the Early Music International Young Artists Competition held in York, Stile Antico has become one of the most sought-after vocal groups on the international stage. They brought to Leeds a varied programme of music for the Christian calendar of Passiontide and Easter from 13 composers working in Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries.

Twelve voices, equally divided between male and female, have to make the immediate compromise that most of the music was originally written for male voices.

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It is a liberty that joins many others as we seek to recreate music of yesteryear with little knowledge of the way that it was performed, though the beauty that Stile Antico bring to music of that era is a rare luxury.

Maybe they have to watch a hardening of the soprano line, which follows modern trends, but changes those gorgeous soaring lines that we so admired when they first emerged.

Where they score so heavily over other similar groups comes in the perfect balance between voices that allows us to hear so much inner detail, following the strands of works such as William Cornish’s Woefully arrayed, John Taverner’s Dum transisset Sabbatum and William Byrd’s In resurrectione tua being so illuminating.