The Sixteen perform music of composers born four centuries apart, both persecuted for their religious faith. William Byrd worked in the court of Elizabeth I but was a covert Catholic. Arvo Pärt (born 1935) lived the first part of his life in Soviet-controlled Estonia, finding freedom in Austria and Germany. In each case their choral writing has a simplicity and intensity, perfectly suited to the blended sound of the Sixteen. Pärt’s The Deer’s Cry, the incantation attributed to St Patrick (“Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me”), provides the album’s title. The Byrd settings include the palindromic Diliges Dominum and the Miserere nostri (with Tallis). The Sixteen take this irresistible programme on their 2016 Choral Pilgrimage.
Pärt, Byrd: The Deer’s Cry CD review – irresistible choral works
Fiona Maddocks is the Observer's classical music critic. She is the author of Hildegard of Bingen, Harrison Birtwistle: Wild Tracks and Music for Life. Follow her on Twitter: @FionaMaddocks