Two weeks ago my car inched its way through the rain-soaked streets of a run down corner of Ipswich, to pick up a particularly special set of eBay winnings – a surround sound DVD system, won for £60.
One week tomorrow, a spectacular CD and DVD by the vocal group I Fagiolini will be released. It is the first recording of a complex, vast, and yet somehow intimate piece for forty – and then finally sixty – separate voices. A huge choir. The piece is a mass entitled Ecco sì beato giorno (that blessed day), it was composed 445 years ago, but only very recently rediscovered – there is a Spectator article on the discovery here. I heard its first modern performance at the Proms a couple of years ago, and on the strength of that performance, I am filled with anticipation.
The piece was recorded in the round – with the listener completely surrounded by a circle of singers. That is why this lost jewel of a composition is worth buying a surround sound system for. In eight days from now, I will be able to be surrounded by this magnificent sound, hearing it travel the room around me. The only way, in my opinion, to listen to what should be a ground-breaking recording.
As an introduction to the piece, here is a video from the academic who rediscovered the score: