on the double album Jerusalem-Yerushalayim (1EMJOY) – the 2017 remix of the oratorio-musical Jerusalem-Yerushalayim with narration by David Suchet:
An engaging, postmodern evocation of the holy city
"Antony Pitts is something of a musical polymath: composer, choir director, conductor, teacher and radio producer are some of the strings to his musical bow. He may be best known to Australian audiences as Artistic Director of The Song Company... Textually, the work uses the Jewish (and by extension, Christian) scriptures to evoke the city regarded as holy by Jews, Christians, and Muslims, beginning with the genealogy of Abraham and concluding with Isaiah's vision of a peaceful Jerusalem. Musically, the score is thoroughly postmodern. Pitts peppers his kaleidoscopic pop-style writing with numerous references to Western art music ranging from Dunstaple, White, and Tallis through to Handel and Parry. This studio remix of a 2011 recording (with biblical verses read by David Suchet) eagerly communicates the commitment of the young performers, underlining the composer's hope that the oratorio will have wide audience appeal, regardless of listeners' backgrounds. The challenging but rewarding score could provide a unifying focus for performers of different origins in the midst of very real conflict in the Middle East." (Tony Way)

on the Missa Unitatis album:
"As director of TONUS PEREGRINUS, Antony Pitts’s spiritually imbued sacred settings have evolved hand in hand with his vocal ensemble over the years, as heard on recordings such as ‘Alpha and Omega’ (Hyperion) and the modern oratorio Jerusalem-Yerushalayim (1equalmusic). However, running in parallel with his work with TONUS PEREGRINUS have been several projects with other groups, including the Missa Unitatis (‘Mass of Unity’)... The two-choir version heard here unites Cappella Pratensis with the Netherlands Chamber Choir under Stephen Layton. The result is a fascinating, multi-layered work that blends chant, polychoral elements and medieval and Renaissance polyphony with techniques drawn from more recent neo-tonal and minimalist styles. The opening Kyrie starts in relatively straightforward fashion, with each choir alternating short modal statements in a manner resembling a kind of medieval tuning meditation. Far more complex layers are overlaid in the Gloria, which ends with the simultaneous combination of up to 16 individual lines using complex rhythmic and metrical juxtapositions. A rhythmically charged Credo leads to more homophonic statements in the Sanctus and Benedictus, while the concluding Agnus Dei radiates a quiet luminescence..." (Pwyll ap Siôn)

SCHERZO February 2018
on the Missa Unitatis album:
"The Missa Unitatis stands out because of its size: it is a marvellous work full of enchantment, soul, depth and color. The Cappella Pratensis and the Nederlands Kamerkoor astonish equally with their virtuosity and musicality in abundance, in a throbbing performance that elevates the listener from beginning to end. An anthological album, without a doubt." [translation]
"La Missa Unitatis destaca por su envergadura: es una maravillosa obra plena de arrobo, de alma, de hondura y de colorido. La Cappella Pratensis y el Netherlands Kamerkoor asombran por igual con su virtuosismo y musicalidad a raudales, en una interpretación palpitante que eleva al oyente de principio a fin. Un álbum antológico, sin duda."

NIEUWE NOTEN December 2017
on the Missa Unitatis album:
"Pitts's mass is woven like a scarlet thread through this album. That takes a bit of getting used to, but there is much to be said for this choice. It is thus a symbol of the interwovenness of the pieces and the participating choirs. With the five movements of the Missa Unitatis we were, of course, totally in awe in our [earlier] review about the concert. This renewed acquaintance, however, makes it even clearer what a beautiful and timeless piece Pitts has written, and above all how wonderfully it is sung here by the two choirs and how well the sounds of both ensembles match." [translation]
"Pitts’ mis is als een rode draad door dit album verweven. Dat is wel even wennen maar er is veel te zeggen voor deze keuze. Het is zo een symbool van de onderlinge verwevenheid van de stukken en de deelnemende koren. Bij het vijfdelige Missa Unitatis stonden we natuurlijk reeds uitgebreid stil in de recensie naar aanleiding van het concert. Deze hernieuwde kennismaking maakt echter nog duidelijker wat een prachtig en ook tijdloos stuk Pitts schreef en bovenal hoe geweldig hier gezongen wordt door de twee koren en hoe goed de klanken van de beide ensembles op elkaar aansluiten."

ITUNES October 2017
on the Missa Unitatis album:
"This is a mesmerizing work that folds time in on itself, beautifully blending old and new... [for] the centuries-old Illustrious Brotherhood of Our Blessed Lady (whose members included Hieronymus Bosch), Antony Pitts created a double-choir version of his Missa Unitatis (the work can be performed by a single or double choir). On this superb recording, Cappella Pratensis are joined by the Nederlands Kamerkoor under conductor Stephen Layton. The music, just for voices, sounds both ancient and modern, and speaks powerfully to the 21st-century listener."

TIMEOUT August 2017
on The Song Company's Dreamers of the Day from the 2017 season The Attraction of Opposites:
One of Australia's premier choral ensembles present an eclectic program that ranges from the Baroque to Steve Reich
"If listening to a big choir singing Handel is like taking your ears on scenic bus trip, a concert by The Song Company is more like a curated jaunt around the CBD in a Ferrari. Just their six amazingly agile and skilful voices can collectively handle anything their Artistic Director – conductor and composer Antony Pitts – puts on their music stands, and that’s often some of the most challenging and interesting classical and contemporary concert music you’ll ever hear performed live. This line-up – spanning from Handel’s 1727 coronation anthem to Steve Reich’s 1972 Clapping Music – seems to aim at a nothing less than a transcendental experience for the listener."

CLASSIKON August 2017
on The Song Company's Dreamers of the Day from the 2017 season The Attraction of Opposites:
Song Company’s Dreamers of the Day was non-stop entertainment
"The concert, or maybe a more accurate description, the entertainment Dreamers of the Day presented by The Song Company is a 75 minute near non-stop journey through bits and pieces of music from Handel and Bach to the present day... The longest work... was Anna’s Rapid Eye Movement by the musical director of The Song Company, Antony Pitts. A tape recording with pianos, percussion and additional voices created a foundation on which he could float his dramatic ideas Pitts wrote vocal lines as diverse as Schoenbergesque Sprechstimme to simple church hymn-like melodic fragments to convey his musical argument. It seems that he is steeped in many musical traditions from period English music of the 1920’s and 1930’s to the music of Philip Glass and the ‘soundtrack’ had a relentless minimalist feel to it. Pitts was most fortunate to have soprano Anna Fraser as the protagonist in this work. She was magnificent vocally and in the conveying of the dramatic pathos embedded in the text of the work. Indeed, the other Song Company performers in this current production, Alexandria Siegers, Robert Macfarlane, and Andrew O’Connor brought great enthusiasm and deep musicality to this work..." (Alan Holley)

GRAMOPHONE August 2017
on Why restless, why cast down? commissioned for the Choir of New College Oxford's Like as the Hart album:
"A collection of settings of Psalm 42 in various translations curated by Catherine Alette Clover, author of New College-themed novel The Templar’s Garden... Antony Pitts’s strophic Why restless, why cast down? is a fascinating neo-hymnic Rubik’s cube of a piece..." (Andrew Mellor)

on The Song Company's Forward & Bach from the 2017 season The Attraction of Opposites:
Pitts gives Bach a shake-up
"It's risky business mixing very old music, especially when it’s Bach’s, with very new. It’s even riskier having the audacity to write new music settings for Martin Luther’s 500-year-old words, previously set by masters like Bach. But in a recital that told a story of rising out of the depths, finding friends, building a mighty fortress and, finally answering the call home to heaven, Australian [British] musician, conductor and composer, Antony Pitts, and his Song Company gave the risk a pretty solid shake up. In a program of chorales and hymn settings by Australian composers, Paul Stanhope, Andrew Batt-Rawden, Ella Macens, Brett McKern, and Matthew Hindson, alongside English composers Jeremy Thurlow and Paul Ritchie, and juxtaposed to music by Luther and Bach, the Song Company gave a performance of exquisite balance, tonal quality and expression. Such was the atmosphere and marvellous music-making of this group, the hushed audience barely dared even to breathe. But the audience itself did get a chance to sing, in the final verse of... Luther’s... well-known hymn, “A Mighty Fortress”. The rhythm was slightly different to that used today, but the tune was familiar and audience sang it with gusto... ...A highlight was the plainchant, Veni Redemptor Gentium, performed by the group’s two tenors, standing on either side of the stage. Even placed so far apart they achieved extraordinary balance and timing with a tone that floated through and filled the cavernous space of Wesley Uniting Church. It was a most moving performance. Bach had the last say, with his motet Komm, Jesu, komm. It was a farewell, even a good riddance, to the world, the protagonist’s work completed. But it was good riddance from neither the Song Company nor the audience. The Song Company gave a very fine recital. Four curtain calls prove it." (Clinton White)

on The Song Company's Forward & Bach from the 2017 season The Attraction of Opposites:
"...The Song Company’s latest tour, Forward & Bach, takes three of Bach’s motets as pillars around which to arrange a clutch of new works commissioned from five Australian composers all starting, like Bach, from the chorale melodies of Martin Luther. The result is five works which duck and weave through the rich baggage of the liturgy, five highly individual voices which add new layers to an ongoing tradition. Matthew Hindson embraces the broad theme of musical limitations most overtly. His Saviour of the Heathens, dedicated to outgoing Chair of the Song Company, Penny Le Couteur, experiments with a musical algorithm as groundwork for a spare, slightly ghostly meditation. Paul Stanhope’s De profundis is a more muscular work, carving out great chunks of vocal sound interspersed with passages using the mathematical transformations of Bach and before to create a slick and fascinating mini-drama. In Ein Feste Burg Brett McKern also references the tricks and tools of baroque counterpoint, but then, starting with a slippery basso continuo, subverts their assumed predictability, sliding into new sound worlds. Ella Macens’ Stāvi Stīvi, Ozoliņ and Andrew Batt-Rawden’s Out of the Deep step a little further from the tree. Although they both start from Martin Luther’s “Out of the Deep I Cry to thee”, Macens adopts a new text, adapted from a Latvian folk verse. Stāvi Stīvi, Ozoliņ describes a great oak tree which stands, unflinching, accepting, as a great storm threatens, arrives, then passes, leaving the tree still there. First developed at the Gondwana National Choral School earlier this year [led by Paul Stanhope and Antony Pitts], it is an exquisite, assured piece of choral writing which reveals an exciting new voice. By contrast, Andrew Batt-Rawden’s Out of the Deep is perhaps the least assured, but that’s not to say it’s any less effective. Batt-Rawden comes to the text as an outsider, a non-believer, and a contemporary sound artist living in a relentlessly chilling modern world. As such, he strips away the comforting homophonies and predictable patterns, winding long, tense, strung out melodies and frantic cries into a strange, beautiful and deeply personal new thing... Of course, none of this could work without the performers. The Song Company, along with guests Tobias Cole, Richard Butler, Jessica O’Donoghue, Neal Peres Da Costa, and Daniel Yeadon, dive fearlessly into new musical realms and deal with the intricacies of Bach with commitment and intelligence. Meanwhile, Antony Pitts directs with a calm, ‘less is more’ approach to the mind-boggling complexities, exuding faith in the skill and wisdom of his extraordinary team of musicians." (Harriet Cunningham)

on The Song Company's Round Robin programme, part of Taking Flight – An International Showcase at the 2017 Canberra International Music Festival:
Magic amid the distracting airport melee
"The Song Company wisely encouraged their audience to gather around them as they stood in a circle to perform some stunning vocal pyrotechnics, delighting with a lovely arrangement of “Sakura, Sakura”, followed by compositions by Arvo Part, William Cornysh, Adrian Self and Antony Pitts." (Bill Stephens)

on The Song Company at the 2017 Canberra International Music Festival:
"The concert opened with great promise: choristers processing down the centre aisle of the Fitters’ Workshop, pausing at various points to sing a verse by Thomas Tallis. The Tallis text – “Why fum’th in sight?” – hoisted a war-torn banner proclaiming the thesis of this extraordinary programme: perplexity and confusion at the age-old conundrum – why do the nations continue to rage so furiously together? Moving onto the stage, the choristers embarked on an affecting piece by Andrew Ford, Waiting for the Barbarians, to a very conflict-driven text by CP Cavafy. Its multiple lines and inner voices were delivered with persuasive panache by the choristers and the new director of The Song Company, Antony Pitts..." (Vincent Plush)

on The Song Company at the 2017 Canberra International Music Festival:
Exceptional performances gild enjoyable concert
"Questions were asked. There was Thomas Tallis’ song, Why fum’th in sight?. There were lots in Andrew Ford’s Waiting for the Barbarians, like “[Why do] politicians sit there and do nothing?”. Handel’s question, “Why do the nations so furiously rage together?” was posed. And they all were linked across six centuries. Thomas Tallis’s song got a very finely controlled, tuned, and balanced rendition by The Song Company, The Australian Voices, and Luminescence Chamber Singers, singing a cappella and very ably conducted by The Song Company’s Artistic Director, Antony Pitts. It was so good it morphed seamlessly from 16th century Tallis to Ford’s complex and at times atonal song, an early 20th century Greek poem about the people capitulating to the barbarians, translated, modernised, and set to 21st century music." (Clinton White)

on The Song Company's Sticks & Stones from the 2017 season The Attraction of Opposites:
**** Uncommon optimism inspired by conflict and loss
"Two expressions of optimism, thinly connected by more than 70 years of conflict, emerged from last week's music... The Song Company under Artistic Director Antony Pitts began their concert in the Yellow House singing from a downstairs gallery giving their blooming clarity and balance in Purcell's Remember not, Lord, our offences, an edge of lonely distance that set the tone for the texts of exile that followed. In Egyptian composer Sheikh Imam's If the sun drowns to a poetic text by Ahmed Fouad Negm, and in love songs based on medieval texts, Oday Al Khatib's voice had an attractive silvery edge that rose at peak moments to touching iridescent intensity. Rahil / Bordeaux and Sodfa by Ramzi Aburdewan, who founded the Al Kamandjati music school in Ramallah where Oday studied, provided mellifluous opportunities for collaboration between Oday and the Company, while the contrapuntal richness of Tallis's Lamentations and his glorious Suscipe quaeso, Domine were sung with polyphony of lucid vividness. The concert ended with a version of Allegri's Miserere in which the famous top C - one of the most popular misreadings in the history of music - was restored to something plausibly close to the original performance convention." (Peter McCallum)

on The Song Company's Sticks & Stones from the 2017 season The Attraction of Opposites:
A concert of exceptional beauty
"The confluence of two quite different vocal traditions produced a concert of exceptional beauty in the austere surroundings of the Wesley Church in Barton. The Song Company, singers very much in the western style of harmony and polyphony, were joined by Palestinian singer Oday Al Khatib from a contrasting tradition of modal melody and rhythm... The concert was a mix of renaissance and baroque church music by Henry Purcell, Thomas Tallis and Gregorio Allegri interspersed with songs in Arabic by Oday al Khatib... The opening Purcell motet was sung with the choir off to the side in the choir stalls, out of sight of the audience in the nave. They moved to the stage for another short work by Tallis followed by Al Khatib entering from the back singing solo. Simple but effective theatrics and superb singing. The two major western works were Tallis’ The Lamentations of Jeremiah and the well-known Miserere by Allegri. The Lamentations were split into two, separated by two Palestinian songs and a total joy to hear... He [Oday Al Khatib] is one of those singers who you feel simply privileged to have heard and a concert that will linger in the memory." (Graham McDonald)

on The Song Company's Arvo Pärt Passio from the 2017 season The Attraction of Opposites:
St Mary's Passion
"In a bold collaboration The Song Company, the Choir of St Mary’s Cathedral and Omega Ensemble have come together to perform Arvo Pärt’s Passio, his setting of the St John Passion... this was a mesmerising performance which felt much shorter than its 75 minute duration. The Evangelist Quartet — The Song Company’s Richard Black, Mark Donnelly, Anna Fraser and Susannah Lawergren — carried the narrative, along with the quartet of orchestral instruments... After a tentative start, they tuned in to the tintinnabuli with an impressive consistency. Nothing stuck out. Nothing jarred. It was just enduringly fascinating. In the role of Jesus, Andrew O’Connor, The Song Company’s resident bass, had few words, but the scoring and his rich, even tone made every line count. As Pilate, Richard Butler, who is Principal Lay Clerk at St Mary’s, cut through the crowd with his crisp, acid responses. Meanwhile, the contrast between the well-drilled ranks of the Choir of St Mary’s and the blood-curdling sound they made as they yelled “Crucify” was one of the dramatic coups of the evening... The four members of the Omega Ensemble found their way through the labyrinthine score with unfussy style, and David Drury drew power and glory and strangeness out of the cathedral’s organ... Congratulations are due to everyone who made this happen... Congratulations in particular on the work of The Song Company’s Artistic Director, Antony Pitts, not just in holding the performance together but also for his specialist knowledge, intricate understanding, and commitment to bringing this work to Australia." (Harriet Cunningham)

on The Song Company's Accidental Plans from the 2017 season The Attraction of Opposites:
Maxim Vengerov and Accidental Plans reviews: Two sides to the classical canon
"Season openers by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the Song Company brought canonical works of Western classical music and 1960s counter-cultural revolution into thought provoking juxtaposition last week... The Song Company by contrast, set out to smash the social contract (to borrow the title of one song) that allows art music its protected aesthetic space in a neo-liberal world. Their program, Accidental Plans under artistic director Antony Pitts, with guest artist Adrian Self, explored the stylistic development of English composer Cornelius Cardew, whose music was introduced to Sydney in the 1970s by the late David Ahern. Cardew's progress from Canterbury Cathedral choirboy, to avant-garde disciple of Stockhausen, to founder of the Scratch Orchestra, a vehicle for free creative improvisation for musicians and non-musicians, to Maoist and post-Maoist revolutionary is chronicled in an evening that is engaging, intriguing and provoking. Though Cardew would have rejected such a musical narrative around his life, the Song Company wove a thought-provoking tale through the demanding complexity of Stockhausen, the harmonic richness of Miles Davis and the anarchy of Cage and Cardew." (Peter McCallum)

A CUNNING BLOG February 2017
on The Song Company's Accidental Plans from the 2017 season The Attraction of Opposites:
The Impossible Cor
"...There’s not much that can defeat The Song Company. This tight knit group can sing, act and, most important, think their way around pretty much anything you can throw at them... The performances are, as you’d expect from The Song Company, wild and wonderful. They’re all fine singers but, more than that, they are sound artists. Something like Steve Reich’s ‘voicetruments’. Plus they occupy the stage with a highly tuned awareness of the interplay between themselves and the audience. No shy genius hiding behind a score here. It makes for a very intense experience: the music is beautiful but discombobulating, nothing is predictable, and the threat of audience participation hangs in the air. You’re never quite sure whether you are being entertained, educated or are in fact the subject of a covert scientific experiment. As a way of portraying this curious artist I found it superbly effective... We knew we were in safe hands, safe voices, with The Song Company. I did, however get glimpses into Cardew’s relentless questioning, his moments of High Nihilism, and it was a scary place. Scary but necessary, because asking questions is what art is all about, and that’s why The Song Company is one of the bravest ensembles around." (Harriet Cunningham)

LIMELIGHT February 2017
on The Song Company's Accidental Plans from the 2017 season The Attraction of Opposites:
The Song Company delivers a strange yet compelling ‘kind-of-opera’ about an unusual musical life.
"Against the blank white walls of the Yellow House, The Song Company – artists dressed in white – performed a preview of Accidental Plans, a musical journey through the life, work and death of one of the stranger musical personalities of the 20th century, English composer Cornelius Cardew. The ‘kind-of-opera’ was created with guest artist designer and writer Adrian Self. The story is told by five singers – led by Artistic Director Antony Pitts from the keyboard – through a series of chapters mingling Cardew’s words and works with those of other composers, and it begins with Cardew’s death... Baritone Mark Donnelly is Cornelius Cardew, emerging periodically from the ensemble’s sound as soloist and protagonist with a penetrating timbre... The Song Company’s vocal flexibility and inventiveness is on display throughout the performance – a particular highlight was a kind of rhythmic riffing on philosophers, drawing attention to the textural sound of the names Lichtenstein, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Derrida. Accidental Plans presents the fascinating life of a man who wanders through many significant musical and political movements of the 20th century, who seems to cling desperately to the next ideology (or father figure?) before becoming disenchanted and moving on..." (Angus McPherson)

classikON February 2017
on The Song Company's Accidental Plans from the 2017 season The Attraction of Opposites:
"engaged the audience from beginning to end"
"Listening to The Song Company in the Yellow House, Potts Point was for many in the audience a trip back in time... Short works by Karlheinz Stockhausen, La Monte Young, John Cage and William Walton were interspersed with snippets of Cardew’s music – mostly simple in approach and also, mostly political in content. His most known works are meant to be approachable by both performers and audience... Singing the ‘role’ of Cardew baritone Mark Donnelly was suitably sensitive and at times dramatic. He brought a gravitas to the character that led the audience into the world of this disturbed individual... All the singers gave finely tuned performances – crystal clear soprano lines from Anna Fraser and Susannah Lawergren were beautifully matched by the insightful singing of Richard Black and Andrew O’Connor. Artistic director Antony Pitts skilfully contributed from the electric keyboard – such a ‘60’s and ‘70’s instrument." (Alan Holley)

on The Song Company's A Strange Eventful History:
"The Song Company's Shakespearean offering at the Conservatorium last month was an epic.  The brilliant bonding of Shakespearean quotations matched with music evocative of the era created an eloquent and inspiring experience.  This was achieved by using the seven ages of man as the link and balance for the narrator, Gary Watt, an English Shakespearean actor who came especially for this Song Company series.  Antony Pitts, the new Artistic Director of the Song Company, has delivered a concert to be long remembered in the best tradition of this illustrious a cappella group.  Even the program was a work of art produced on a sepia long sheet in the manner of the times."

on The Song Company's performance with Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in Metropolis New Music Festival 2016's Cityscapes:
"For their second Metropolis concert, the MSO teamed up with The Song Company to take us from sweeping urban vistas right down into the streets of renaissance Paris and London... With the MSO ranged expectantly on stage, The Song Company burst into Clément Janequin’s sixteenth-century setting of Parisian street cries. Singing from the gallery high above the audience, the cries of Paris rang out with an eerie clarity, like ghosts haunting the MRC. This haunting effect was even stronger in Orlando Gibbons’ The Cryes of London as the ensemble hummed a viol consort accompaniment. Weaving street cries into polyphonic music was a popular renaissance trope suggesting an awareness of the correlation between the multiple independent lines of polyphonic music and renaissance rationality and individualism. The cries are also a snapshot of the unique problems of urban life, including how to feed such a large concentration of people and how to control the rats and mice that accompany people wherever they go. Luciano Berio updated the trope with atonal polyphony in his The Cries of London in 1974. The Song Company’s lucid and nuanced performance of this modern masterpiece was by far the highlight of the evening..." (Matthew Lorenzon)

on The Song Company's performance with Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in Metropolis New Music Festival 2016's Cityscapes:
"...Sydney's The Song Company interleaved this Americana with Jannequin​'s mid-Renaissance Les cris de Paris, Gibbons' Jacobean-era The Cryes of London, and was responsible for the night's real new music: Berio's 40-year-old update Cries of London. The group, expanded to eight voices under new director Antony Pitts, gave character-rich interpretations of all three a cappella works but excelled in the Berio: unflappably fluent, sensibly shading in their dynamics, spellbindingly confident in negotiating the composer's rasping dissonances." (Clive O'Connell)

classikON April 2016
on The Song Company's In Tempore Paschali:
From the first intake of breath the exquisite vocal machine of Song Company overawed
"...I was yet again overawed by the exquisite vocal machine that is Song Company. If the ensemble was a car, it definitely would be a Ferrari! As In Tempore Paschali unfolded, exploring the Easter story with music old and new, the audience were enchanted and seduced by the possibilities of the voice – at once reverent, distant, sombre, joyful and spiritual. The 'filigree detail of each individual vocal part' was brought alive by Susannah Lawergren, Anna Fraser, Hannah Fraser, Richard Black, Mark Donnelly and Andrew O’Connor. ...Artistic Director Antony Pitts created a concert in three parts exploring the subjects of Tomb, Hades and Throne. Into this musical setting was interwoven some of the most beautiful, intricate and intimate hymns, psalms, a capella Mass parts, plainchants and motets. Clever artistic direction placed Australian composers in amongst the ancient greats – I particularly loved the way Alice Chance’s stunning Fiat Lux by the three glamorous female singers of Song Company, followed a Credo by ‘Anonymous’ (1469) for the four male voices, including Antony Pitts himself. The intimate and crisp acoustics of the Independent Theatre were perfect for a concert of such beauty and spirituality. Extensive, educative and detailed program notes explained the historic musical journey we were on and the definition of polyphony – 'the combination of apparently independent voice parts into a harmonious whole', adding it was 'one of the noblest inventions of the human mind'. A big claim, but in the hands of Song Company, we were true believers!" (Lliane Clarke)

on The Song Company's In Tempore Paschali:
The Song Company review: a concert of rare and transcendent beauty
" was Monteverdi's Missa In illo tempore and Gombert's motet that formed the central thread of the three parts of The Song Company's radiant presentation in the acoustically miraculous crypt of St Mary's Cathedral under their new artistic director, Antony Pitts. Standing in a circle on the terrazzo floor under the central vault, the building amplified and echoed the interweaving lines with iridescent resonance, building to a peak of intensity in the elaborate counterpoint that closes the Gloria and Credo of the mass that was quite magical... Pitts' music expanded classic polyphonic vocal textures to incorporate modern harmonies within a broadly consonant framework and an original and sensitive understanding of the voice. As new director, Pitts continues and honours The Song Company's special expertise in the glories of the Renaissance under previous director Roland Peelman, while also bringing a distinct and cogent personal perspective. This was a concert of rare and transcendent beauty." (Peter McCallum)

CHOIR & ORGAN April 2016 *****
on In Memoriam (DELPHIAN DCD34146) :
"Here is a lasting memorial in music to the late director of music at King’s College London, and of St Mary’s Bourne Street, David Trendell, who died suddenly in 2014. Under the direction of then acting director of music Gareth Wilson, the 30-strong choir sings with assured intonation and a controlled vibrancy which brings alive the many contemporary works featured here (notably by Francis Pott, Antony Pitts, Matthew Martin, Francis Grier), framed by Byrd, Lhéritier, Clemens non Papa and Palestrina... For quality of performance and diversity of repertoire, this is an outstanding disc." (Matthew Power)

LIMELIGHT March 2016
on The Song Company's In Tempore Paschali:
A three-part polyphonic soothing of the soul for Easter
"...Given the holy location, the superb singing and the well thought out programme, it was quite a success. The concert was divided into three parts, representing three aspects of Easter: Tomb, Hades and Throne. The sections ran onto one another without applause, maintaining the sense of gravitas and mystery, connected only by a few thespian readings of poems by polymath Pitts himself. Each section incorporated a movement from Monteverdi’s Missa In illo tempore, using and exploring themes and motifs from works by Gombert which in turn featured in the programme. Each section also worked in Thou wast present as on this day from Pitts’ Requiem for the Time of the End. The unifying element was the fluidity of time, the connection between past, present and future and, of course, the musical thread of polyphony that can arouse a sense of the eternal in the hands of a dexterous composer. The singing throughout was precise and unforced, the vocalists taking advantage of the Crypt’s natural amplification. Pitts’s direction from within a circular arrangement ensured a tight relationship between vocalists, as well a democracy of the six singers..." (Andrew Luboski)

on The Song Company's Bach & Forward:
Antony Pitts delivers perfect new chapter
"...As composer, conductor and new artistic director of The Song Company Antony Pitts explains, there is something reassuringly solid about Bach's music. His scores are complex and technically challenging, but they unfurl with a sense of unbending certainty. Have faith and it will all work out in the end. Perhaps this is why the beginning of this, the ensemble's first concert in 2016, has proved so delicious. One voice, gradually joined by other voices from unseen figures around the hall, singing an unadorned melody. From silence, to one, to many, it felt like the perfect opening to a new chapter... ...One of the highlights was Brahms'Warum ist das Licht gegeben, an intensely emotional, harmonically volatile series of verses, in which the eight voices blended with mahogany warmth... ...However, the main event was Bach, and Pitts drew a fastidious, cogent and very beautiful performance of three motets from these fine performers. This is virtuoso ensemble singing: eight individual voices, all moving independently, often in different directions, at speed and at the extremes of the singers' registers and dynamic ranges. It's hard to imagine a better performance... ...The new chapter reads well." (Harriet Cunningham)

on The Song Company's Bach & Forward:
"...What a fascinating program. The Song Company, under the musical direction of their new leader Antony Pitts, sang three Bach motets alongside choral music from the 19th century which specifically reflected Bach’s influence... this was seriously interesting programming... This was one of two extraordinary feats in this concert; the other being a Swingle-singers like rendering by the singers of the eight-part Contrapunctus from The Art of Fugue, a reminder the staggering virtuosity of which the Song Company is capable... The performance of such a program was a tour de force, showing us once again what a brilliant outfit the Song Company is, and whetting the appetite for further concerts under their new director. What will they think of next?" (Nicholas Routley)

GRAMOPHONE Top Ten Modern Classics April 2014
on TONUS PEREGRINUS #1 album of Arvo Pärt's Passio (Naxos 8.555860):
"...Daunted by contemporary music? Look no further...Time is often the best judgement of art’s longevity; however much the critics heap adulation of a new play, book or piece of music, if it doesn’t start a life there and then, its future can’t be guaranteed. The history of music is littered with pieces that were heard just once – and have never seen the light of day since. Here’s a list of 10 pieces, composed since 1982, that have established a hold on the repertoire and in some cases notched up a fair number of recordings. It’s not exhaustive, but it does speak eloquently of what ignites public appreciation..."

on the double album Jerusalem-Yerushalayim (1EMJ2O) – the world premiere recording of the oratorio-musical Jerusalem-Yerushalayim:
"...I am not alone among my MusicWeb colleagues in enjoying Pitts’ own music and the performances by his group TONUS PEREGRINUS of his music and that of others; the new release is equally fine... I was able to listen only to the mp3 version...but the sound there is very good indeed, so the lossless versions should be stunning. In addition to the pdf booklet which comes with the download, a separate 52-page souvenir booklet is available, currently reduced from £5.00..." (Brian Wilson)

GRAMOPHONE August 2013
on music from the Eton Choirbook:
An Imposing English Board: Fabrice Fitch Applauds Those Who Have Recorded Music from the Extraordinary Storehouse of Early English Polyphony That Is the Eton Choirbook...
"...Each of the remaining recordings listed here, all issued in the last four years, offers something distinctive, as though the Eton discography were entering a mature phase: the groundwork laid, these ensembles stamp the music with their own approach... ...Perhaps the most enterprising selection of the most recent crop comes from TONUS PEREGRINUS. Their trick of alternating lower-and higher-voiced choirs for the verses of William, Monk of Stratford's Magnificat, is a felicitous idea, injecting a note of dynamism into what was a rather stodgy piece in The Sixteen's box-set. In the concluding verse, the two choirs combine like organ stops – a wonderful sound. It's by no means impossible that such an approach may have been taken at the time the piece was written, at least on occasion. Theirs is the only available reading of Davy's setting of the Passion, a work of more than historical interest in which psalmist and choir alternate in the manner memorialised much later by Schutz. The way in which this segues into Browne's Stabat mater (whose text is an extension of the Passion story) is a deft piece of programming..." (Fabrice Fitch)

on world premiere of They shall awake:
"...Each half of the programme concluded with a first performance. I’ve heard some of Antony Pitts’ music previously on CD, including a disc devoted to some of his choral music (review) so I was keen to hear this latest piece. Apparently They shall awake forms an appendix to Pitts’ Requiem which was inspired by the death of Alexander Litvinenko. It was poignant then, if coincidental, that as I was driving to the concert I heard on the BBC News that the British government had just declined to hold a public enquiry into the circumstances surrounding Litvinenko’s murder in 2006. In this piece Pitts sets words from a sermon preached by John Donne in 1627/8: part of this wonderful text was also used by William Harris in his fine anthem Bring us O Lord God. Pitts responds to the image-rich words with very intense music. The choral textures are rich and full and the writing often includes long melodic lines, especially for the sopranos. The harmonic language is adventurous yet the music is always accessible despite the complex tonality. The piece followed immediately after Britten’s Hymn to the Virgin so the semi chorus was once again positioned in the gallery, to excellent effect. This is an arresting and impressive piece that grabbed and held my attention. The composer, who was present, was clearly delighted by the performance..." (John Quinn)

on music from the Eton Choirbook:
"...making the quality offered here on a par with Christophers, and with the added bonus of a first recording (Kellyk’s Magnificat) and the presence of the first ever created “passion” complete with narration), that of Richard Davy’s Matthew. The performances are first rate, and the Church of St. Alban’s captured very well in a recording that is a sterling addition to any Renaissance collection, and also makes a fine introduction to the music of the Eton composers..." (Steven Ritter)

on music from the Eton Choirbook:
"...This sampler by TONUS PEREGRINUS is on a par with the best of previous recordings and, by accident or design, involves relatively little duplication with those previous recordings. Unless you insist on boys’ voices rather than those of women, this mixed-voice choir deserves your surely delighted attention. We get to hear such fascinating works as Davy’s St. Matthew Passion - or what remains of it, the opening pages being amongst the material lost. Its treatment of its text is subtle and expressive. The sheer beauty of much of its polyphonic writing is notable. Wylkynson’s extraordinary 13-part canonic setting of the Apostle’s Creed is also memorable. Other rare delights include Browne’s powerfully expressive Stabat mater, simultaneously redolent of the affective spirituality of the middle ages and, at moments seeming to anticipate a kind of madrigalesque word-painting. Kellyk’s beautiful Magnificat is one of the 24 Magnificats included in this particular choir book. It makes one wonder how much more lovely and profound music by this composer we have lost... the alternation of choirs of high and low voices works very well. At every turn these are fine performances, excellently recorded by Geoff Miles using new, experimental microphones with happy results... Almost without exception the choices made by Pitts and his choir are thoroughly satisfying..." (Glyn Pursglove)

AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, January/February 2013 American Record Guide Critic's Choice
on music from the Eton Choirbook:
"...performances leave nothing to be desired in technical polish or stylistic poise. They employ expressive dynamic contrasts, but not to the point of subjective excess. Admirers of this repertory will not be disappointed... The recorded sound is remarkably clear and warm, thanks to a pair of experimental microphones devised by recording engineer Geoff Miles to reduce what he calls "intermodulation", a non-harmonic distortion in high resolution recording that produces a hard or glassy tone. On the evidence of this recording, he is on the right track." (Bill Gatens)

on There is a green hill part of Hymns and Songs of the Church:
"There is a green hill far away should be in every high school choral library. It is a wonderful teaching resource for the late Renaissance style even though it is newly composed. Short and strophic, slow moving and heartfelt, use this piece early in the school year. It will help your students learn to sing in harmony with beautiful phrasing..." (Jack Senzig)

FANFARE January/February 2013
on music from the Eton Choirbook, part of Milestones of Western Music:
"...Pitts has shown a sensitivity to the range of early music that places him among the leading interpreters. Collectors will want this just for the Kellyk work, but it stands on its own as a single disc of this repertoire...." (J. F. Weber)

CHOIR & ORGAN December 2012
on music from the Eton Choirbook:
"The subtle, non-treble-dominated approach taken by TONUS PEREGRINUS gladdens the heart. In a wonderful programme... they radiate delight in the music with exemplary accuracy and delicacy of interpretation." (Rebecca Tavener)

PLANET HUGILL 8 December 2012
on O Holy of Holies performed at New Lamps for Old:
"Antony Pitts's O Holy of Holies was not so much paired with Sheppard's Reges Tharsis was combined with it to make a new work. Pitts wrote O Holy of Holies utilising the structural scheme of a respond, where polyphony alternates with chant, but did not write the chant. Instead the work is performed in lieu of the chant in Sheppard's Regis Tharsis, so that Pitts's fascinatingly chromatic settings, at once dense and transparent, alternated with Sheppard's lively polyphony to create a very satisfying whole..." (Robert Hugill)

GRAMOPHONE Awards 2012 issue
on music from the Eton Choirbook:
TONUS PEREGRINUS open the great early English sourcebook
"...It is great to have a new recording from the Eton Choirbook... It is also great to have a new recording of Richard Davy’s Passion setting... In particular it is good to have what may be the first recording of the Magnificat by Hugo Kellyk... And it is good that Antony Pitts has applied his composer’s instinct and experience to the very tricky matter of editorial accidentals in this music, resulting in a far wider range of chromatic colour than even the boldest of available recordings... TONUS PEREGRINUS is an ensemble that has recorded music from all centuries, from the 11th to the 21st, with particularly famous recordings of Pärt and Antony Pitts himself. ...the CD is an undoubted success." (David Fallows)

THE WHOLE NOTE 31 October 2012
on music from the Eton Choirbook:
"...The Choirbook required the skins of “112 average-sized calves” to produce; none died in vain, as this recording proves... TONUS PEREGRINUS' already high reputation is only enhanced by its interpretations of the Eton Choirbook... Naxos is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. It describes this recording as “perhaps the jewel in the crown of its series of Milestones of Western music.” Only “perhaps?”..." (Michael Schwartz)

on Alpha & Omega & Seven Letters:
"As director of TONUS PEREGRINUS, Antony Pitts clearly has the music of renaissance composers in his blood and they are a clear influence on his own music, as also is Arvo Pärt whose music the group has also performed. It’s almost as if one of his renaissance predecessors has been miraculously restored to life, been allowed to catch up with all that has intervened, and then set pen to paper – except that my description doesn’t begin to do justice to the individuality of his music. Jeremy Summerly’s notes, available on the Hyperion webpage, do it better. The result is not ‘easy’ listening... but it is absolutely enthralling and there can be no better take on it than these two recordings from his own ensemble, both very well recorded and documented in the Hyperion style. It clearly arises from the composer’s own religious faith, but you don’t need to share that faith to respond – after all, it spoke to me as an Anglo-Catholic/Buddhist agnostic... The enthralling opening work [CDA67668] is the coda from Pitts’ Jerusalem-Yerushalayim, a work still awaiting its premiere recording in full, and one which I hope someone will be prepared to take up. The received etymology of the name Jerusalem links it with the Semitic root s-l-m, peace, and that’s the spirit that breathes through this work. If you’re still not prepared to go the whole hog and buy either of these recordings, you’ll find Adoro te, perhaps the most striking work from CDA67507, on a Hyperion sampler of contemporary choral music, Dreamland..." (Brian Wilson)

DAILY TELEGRAPH 8 September 2012
on music from the Eton Choirbook:
"...The fluency, rapt reverence and sheer beauties of these pieces are conveyed here by the vocal ensemble TONUS PEREGRINUS with subtlety of texture and expression, opening our ears to some real glories of Tudor church music..." (Geoffrey Norris)

MUSIC & VISION 1 September 2012
on music from the Eton Choirbook:
"Fascinating music...vibrant and alive... Eton has produced many prime ministers, but just one Choirbook." (Robert Anderson)

on music from the Eton Choirbook:
"...These performances are commendable, displaying unearthly breath control in the long phrases of works such as Kellyk's Magnificat, and great clarity of texture in the dense counterpoint..." (Anthony Pryor)

ALLMUSIC August 2012 Editor's Choice
on music from the Eton Choirbook:
"This exemplary album by the British chamber choir TONUS PEREGRINUS, led by its founder Antony Pitts, includes seven works of Renaissance polyphony and plainchant from the surviving 64 pieces from the Eton Choirbook, which dates from around 1500. It’s a mixed ensemble rather than the choir of men and boys that would have originally sung this music, but this is such an exceptionally fine performance that anyone who loves this repertoire, apart from the most diehard purist, is likely to be delighted with the chaste purity, expressiveness, and interpretive choices of TONUS PEREGRINUS... The choices are convincing and add considerably to the warmth and appeal of album... Naxos' engineers use experimental recording technology that beautifully captures and differentiates various polyphonic lines with unusual clarity and a clean, balanced blend." (Stephen Eddins)

INFODAD 23 August 2012
on music from the Eton Choirbook:
"...the desirable qualities of the human voice remain as they have been for centuries: purity, accuracy, high tonal quality, and the ability to subsume oneself into the lyrics. Music from the Eton Choirbook has all these characteristics in excellent performances of five-century-old works taken from a manuscript found in Eton College Chapel. The composers are little known today, if at all: Walter Lambe, Richard Davy, John Browne, Hugh Kellyk, Robert Wylkynson and William, Monk of Stratford. And the works, one and all, are on religious themes that are presented with restrained intensity and a deep sense of belief, from Davy's St Matthew Passion to Browne's Stabat mater and Kellyk's Magnificat, which here receives its première recording. But what gives this Naxos CD its communicative power, even in our more secular time, is the tonal richness and beautiful ensemble work of TONUS PEREGRINUS under Antony Pitts. Written for a much earlier age, these pieces continue to have a good deal to say to ours."

MUSICAL TORONTO 22 August 2012
on music from the Eton Choirbook:
"'s pretty much impossible not to reach a state of bliss after listening to a new album featuring seven pieces chosen by English a capella choir TONUS PEREGRINUS from the Eton Choirbook... TONUS PEREGRINUS, recorded at a church in London, used specially constructed microphones to try and bring high-definition clarity to the long lines of undulating, intertwined voices. The result is particularly vivid, highlighting the character of individual voices, and making the Latin texts perfectly intelligible... A fascinating treat is the final piece, a 13-part canon by Robert Wylkynson... It starts with the words 'Jesus walked among them' before the Apostles' Creed. Because of the piece's structure, it really sounds is as if a figure singing through every voice in the choir. It's pure magic..." (John Terauds)

CLASSIC FM 18 August 2012
on music from the Eton Choirbook
"Connoisseur's Choice" (David Mellor)

eMUSIC 16 August 2012 *****
on music from the Eton Choirbook:
"...even collectors who have recordings of this repertoire will want to hear their unique application of scholarship to the questions of cross-relations and unwritten accidentals, which give these performances a piquancy missing from some of the competition." (Steve Holtje)

ARIAMA 13 August 2012
on music from the Eton Choirbook:
"...sung brilliantly on this new recording by the vocal ensemble TONUS PEREGRINUS conducted by Antony Pitts... This recording by TONUS PEREGRINUS moves to the top of my list of favorites. There are some familiar works on the recording, like John Browne’s superb six-part Stabat Mater, but few performances match the intensity of this one by TONUS PEREGRINUS... The performances by TONUS PEREGRINUS are state-of-the-art... The sound quality is a story unto itself. Recording engineer Geoff Miles used experimental microphones that cloud distortion... and results in a recording of striking immediacy and clarity. This is as fine an album of Renaissance polyphony as I’ve heard in a while..." (Craig Zeichner)

THE OBSERVER 12 August 2012
on music from the Eton Choirbook:
A 500-year-old manuscript is brought to glorious life by TONUS PEREGRINUS
"...This new collection from the 14 mixed voices of TONUS PEREGRINUS is exceptionally successful and sonorous, and includes a five-part Magnificat by Hugh Kellyk, previously unrecorded... for sheer contrapuntal virtuosity you cannot beat the oddest piece, the final 13-part canon by Robert Wylkynson." (Nicholas Kenyon)

on music from the Eton Choirbook:
"...Immaculately performed by TONUS PEREGRINUS, this gorgeously recorded release is an essential purchase."

CONCERTONET 6 August 2012
on music from the Eton Choirbook:
"...this astounding Naxos recording... The music is richly captivating, breathtaking and inspirational... Acoustics are phenomenal... It’s as though one is being lifted up to the heavens! Bravo, beautiful and brilliant!" (Christie Grimstad)

MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL August 2012 Bargain of the Month
on music from the Eton Choirbook:
"...I wasn't expecting to find any revelations here. I was wrong: in the booklet Antony Pitts writes ‘This recording is perhaps the jewel in the crown of our Naxos series of 'milestones of Western Music'.’ Omit the ‘perhaps’ and I agree; this is superb, and the performances and recording do the music full justice..." (Brian Wilson)

THE TIMES 4 August 2012
on music from the Eton Choirbook:
"The 15th-century collection of sacred music known as the Eton Choirbook is regularly extolled but far less often performed. So three cheers to Antony Pitts's subtly expressive choir TONUS PEREGRINUS for resuscitating half a dozen numbers. They include Richard Davy's St Matthew Passion, a sonorous and symbolic 13-part canon by Robert Wylkynson, and pieces by Walter Lambe and Hugh Kellyk so harmonically fascinating that one feels ashamed to ask 'who they?'. These ravishing melismas seem to lead the ear on and on towards eternity - as, probably, they were intended to do." (Richard Morrison)

on music from the Eton Choirbook:
"A very rewarding compilation of music from 'one of the greatest surviving glories of pre-reformation England'. Music for 4 parts to an amazing 13 in Wylkynson's Jesus autem transiens/Credo in Deum. Excellent annotation by Antony Pitts, and superbly recorded with Geoff Miles' special "elephant ears" microphone. A disc to play again and again..." (Peter Grahame Woolf)

on music from the Eton Choirbook:
"TONUS PEREGRINUS's thirteen singers include the pick of vocalists working in this field of music... the singing being of excellent technical quality in a beautifully balanced recording." (David Denton)

on Alpha & Omega:
"Antony Pitts and Tonus Peregrinus are probably best known for their series of excellent early music recordings for Naxos, showcasing such seminal figures as Léonin, Perotin, Adam de la Halle and Dunstaple; but with Hyperion they have embarked on a programme of recording works by Pitts himself, and Alpha and Omega is a companion album to Seven Letters (2005). Embracing both large public works (the a cappella coda for an oratorio, Jerusalem-Yerushalayim commissioned for a concert hall in Israel) and intimate occasions (the Sanctus and Benedictus were written for the silver wedding of Pitts’s parents), all the pieces here confirm the composer’s command of the entire history of choral music. The eight voices of Tonus Peregrinus take the range of harmonic environments, sinuous melodies and complex textures in their stride. The beauty of the choir’s sound is as impressive as its technical accomplishment, doing full justice to their director’s fascinating, inventive compositions." (Barry Witherden)

on Bach and the Art of Bee-keeping:
"Gratitude was my overwhelming emotion, too, on hearing Radio 3’s Sunday Feature: Bach and the Art of Bee-keeping, because it demonstrates how the BBC can still find space for the eccentric and ambitious. Antony Pitts is well known both as a com­poser and radio producer, and this programme demonstrated again his fascination with musical forms and their correspondence with theo­logical precepts. The programme began with a boy in conversation with a bee-keeper. The connection with Bach came with a poem by Charles Tomlinson, which speculates about how Bach might have conceptualised his music had he been a bee-keeper: "All those notes Suspended above the other In the air of his ear". We were treated to miniature essays on everything from Big Bang theory to double-leading-note ca­dences to quantum mechanics..." (Edward Wickham) August 2011
on TONUS PEREGRINUS #1 album of Arvo Pärt's Passio (Naxos 8.555860):
"...If you don’t know the phenomenon that is Arvo Pärt, this inexpensive, stunning release of what may remain his masterwork will open your ears and heart. Bass Robert Macdonald sings Jesus’ lines with utmost dignity and rich, dark tone; tenor Mark Anderson as Pilate begins sounding puzzled and moves into clean-hands irony as the situation becomes clear. The four voices of the Evangelist are ideally matched and they sing as one; the instrumental soloists are similarly superb.... I dare say a newcomer will be bowled over by the work's exquisite austerity in this performance by TONUS PEREGRINUS. The sonics are superb—spacious, clear, with pure silences..." (Robert Levine)

on In My Father's House:
"...I was entirely unprepared for the stunning performance by St Pancras Church Choir... and the dark new work they premiered by Antony Pitts came in finely sculpted waves of polyphony. It was quite something to sit in this grand church, proofed against the traffic roaring past outside, and hear such fabulous music free of charge...."

THE GUARDIAN 6 July 2009
on A Wireless Revelation on BBC Radio 3:
"...Saturday's Between the Ears - 'A Wireless Revelation' was an excellent case in point: I can't think of anywhere else that this project would happen...."

THE TIMES 3 July 2009
on A Wireless Revelation on BBC Radio 3:
"...It is almost impossible not to be drawn in by such resonant, dire phrases, many of them familiar... It is an ambitious undertaking. There is no commentary, no interruption; the book is unabridged, read in its entirety by half a dozen voices, and it speaks for itself apart from the briefest of introductions. Once you settle in to the voices in counterpoint, the noise of it all, it is compelling.
Pitts sees the words and music very much as in harmony: 'It does require you to shut other things out and give it your undivided attention,' he says. 'It covers the end of the world played out over a huge expanse of time and place. I treat the words as sounds, as music. There are two approaches for the listener: one is semantic and one is visceral. The combination of both those things is what makes it powerful, challenging.'..."

20 December 2008
on GOLDEN RADIO production of In memoria for BBC Radio 3's Between the Ears
Radio Choice Martin Hoyle
"Tonight's Between the Ears is Radio 3 at its best, by turns freewheeling, precious, touching, aggravating and riveting. Renaissance motets and modern compositions alternate with liturgical readings, children's voices and a man's heartbreaking account of his wife's tragic death. Frequently beautiful, cumulatively moving - and fascinating radio (9.15pm)."
**** (Martin Hoyle)

on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Alpha and Omega (Hyperion CDA67668)
"In terms of sheer beauty of performance and recording, this disc takes some beating. Antony Pitts was born in 1969. From early on, he was immersed in the world of the choir, first at the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace and then... at New College, Oxford. In the year of his graduation, he formed the vocal ensemble captured on the present recording, TONUS PEREGRINUS. Their previous disc of music by Pitts was unreservedly welcomed by James Carson in Fanfare 29:2, and I find myself waxing just as enthusiastic about the present release. Pitts’s frame of reference is large. His use of suspensions in particular refers back to the 16th century, but the overarching use of dissonance is decidedly of our era. Occasional jazzy rhythms sit side-by-side medieval hocketing with little sense of disjunction. The first piece on the disc, The Peace of Jerusalem, is actually the choral coda of a new oratorio called Jerusalem-Yerushalayim... Pitts shapes the piece as a single trajectory from gentle pianissimos through to radiant climax. The singers of TONUS PEREGRINUS are exquisitely blended. There is a purity to the three female singers that is very effective in its evocation of reverent piety. The Mass of the English Renaissance informs the Sanctus and Benedictus (1993), two brief settings that celebrate stasis. A Thousand Years (1999) comprises two movements that form a meditation on the line 'A day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day'. The use of unison, rhythmic chanting is highly effective in the middle section. All credit to the sopranos for coping with the high, sustained writing of My Dove (1997), a gentle lullaby setting of a text from the Song of Songs. The remainder of the disc is taken up by The “I AM” sayings of Jesus, a cycle of eight motets each of which uses a different number of voices. Composition stretched from 1996 until 2007. Each movement is based on a different interval, from the seconds of the opening through to the sevenths of 'I AM Alpha and Omega'. The booklet notes, by Jeremy Summerly, point out the influence of Medieval music on the first movement, 'Before Abraham was, I AM', while a comfortable mixolydian basis for 'I AM the bread of life' creates an atmosphere of cozy security which is disturbed by the story of Lazarus in 'I AM the Resurrection and the Life'. The final, almost ecstatic melismas of this movement are taken over as an ostinato basis for the brief 'I AM the light of the World'. Again, Pitts connects this movement to the one that follows, this time by placing the resolution of the final sonority of 'I AM the light of the World' at the very beginning of 'I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life'. As the basic interval widens to a fifth, a sense of space is clearly invoked. 'I AM the True Vine' is by far the lushest and longest movement so far. Textures are magnificently managed by TONUS PEREGRINUS. Francis Brett is the superb bass soloist in the penultimate motet, 'I AM the door — I AM the good shepherd' before the final, and longest, motet, 'I AM Alpha and Omega', provides an expansive end to this most impressive cycle. The use of the octave to suggest infinity is coupled with a thematic summing-up by sequential quotations from the preceding movements before ending on a question mark. Full English texts are provided, and Jeremy Summerly’s notes are consistently illuminating. A winner." (Colin Clarke)

OXFORD TODAY Trinity 2008
on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Alpha and Omega (Hyperion CDA67668)
"...Pitts is a real composer: his gestures are highly expressive, fresh-minted by the words, without cliché. Alpha and Omega (CDA67668) is also uncompromising music, often using eight parts with complex chords and a high level of dissonance - though in such expertly blended voices 'dissonance' is an academic misnomer for 'colour'. Like Monteverdi's, this music paints words, moment by moment; it doesn't build obvious musical structures or even remain long in one overarching texture (except perhaps 'I AM Alpha and Omega'). However, some of the eight 'I AM' sayings of Jesus are set in fewer parts, permitting broader brush-strokes, such as a vaguely minimalist backdrop for 'I AM the Light of the World'. Pitts's friend Jeremy Summerly suggests that, in their unblinking focus on the words, these works are 'as much theological statements as stand-alone pieces of music'. If so, Pitts appears a stern Magister. Performances are by the utterly brilliant, and utterly fearless, choir TONUS PEREGRINUS..." (Graham Topping)

April 2008
on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Alpha and Omega (Hyperion CDA67668)
"Not yet 40, Antony Pitts, together with John Rutter and Taverner is perhaps one of the most sought-after British composers of contemporary choral works. He is already the recipient of several prestigious awards such as the Prix Italia... The first Hyperion issue dedicated to choral works by this prodigious composer got some truly rave reviews, and this second disc will undoubtedly make its mark... The principal work on this programme is the "I AM" sayings of Jesus which at 40 minutes makes up almost two thirds of total playing time. The comforting yet perplexing texts allow Pitts free reign to express his vivid word painting and the music is also informed with great restlessness and agitation. The other four works are similar to the main opus but each has its own distinct message to convey. TONUS PEREGRINUS... perform with spellbinding excitement matching spirituality with technical prowess. This is a sumptuously beautiful disc on all counts." (Gerald Fenech)

on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Alpha and Omega (Hyperion CDA67668)
"Antony Pitts, a composer not yet 40 years of age, has rapidly crafted a place for himself as one of Britain's more enterprising writers of choral music.... The recording contains five works, captured most sensitively at Bromley Parish Church last year, and its ambitious pretext certainly marks it as a disc worthy of serious attention. The 'I AM' Sayings of Jesus, which inspired Pitts to create eight musical depictions culminating in 'I AM Alpha and Omega', the title of the disc itself, form a significant work lasting over forty minutes.... An intriguing aspect to the work as a whole is the manner in which it functions using a varying number of voices, from one to eight, providing a further structural dimension to this most assiduously put-together choral work. The other works on the disc, 'The Peace of Jerusalem', 'Sanctus and Benedictus', 'A Thousand Years' and 'My Dove', are also steeped in the architectural building blocks of the English Renaissance and yet continually tinged with Pitts's inimitable piquancy of language. This is a most successful recording, TONUS PEREGRINUS never wearied by the vastness of its task and the vision of Christ always palpable in the composer's creative insights." (Mark Tanner)

ALLMUSIC February 2008
on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Alpha and Omega (Hyperion CDA67668)
"One of the things that makes the sacred a cappella work of Antony Pitts (born 1969) stand out from that of the many excellent emerging choral composers of his generation is his fearless defiance of harmonic and melodic conventions; just when you think he's heading for an easy landing, he veers off into unexpected, exhilaratingly wild territory.... In the double quartet that he conducts, TONUS PEREGRINUS, Pitts has assembled an ensemble for which he can write with impunity. Their ability to negotiate the music's extreme demands is staggering, and they do it with wonderfully pure tone, warm blend, and impassioned expressiveness. Pitts is a composer to watch out for: these remarkably assured and compelling works should be strong interest to any fan of contemporary choral music."(Stephen Eddins)

January/February 2008
on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Alpha and Omega (Hyperion CDA67668)
"TONUS PEREGRINUS is proving to be one of the most skilful vocal groups around. Its composer/founder/director demands much from his singers, which they accomplish with impressive fluency and musicality. Pitts shows considerable ingenuity and flair in his settings of sacred texts, which include The Peace of Jerusalem, Sanctus and Benedictus, A Thousand Years and the totally captivating My Dove. The outstanding work is The ‘I AM’ Sayings of Jesus, which Pitts constructs using various combinations of voices and intervals from the unison to the octave, but never in a mathematical sequence. The moods range from the austere to the ecstatic, from the simplistic to a dissonant but ordered turmoil – it’s a remarkable achievement." (Shirley Ratcliffe)

24 June 2007
on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Leonin / Perotin - Sacred Music from Notre-Dame Cathedral (Naxos 8.557340)
"In charting the history of music in the West, the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in Paris loom large as a golden age of innovative polyphony, a golden age that is much the fruits of two composers, Leoninus and Perotinus.
Their famous magnus liber organi—the great book of organum—preserves polyphonic settings of responsorial chants, works that define and establish Gothic sound much as the cathedral in which they were sung, Notre Dame in Paris, defines and establishes our notions of Gothic space.
TONUS PEREGRINUS offers three of the most substantial Notre Dame works—the two-voiceViderunt by Leoninus and the four-voice Viderunt and Sederunt by Perotinus. Pitts divides his ensemble into lower- and upper-ranged forces, and the opportunity to hear this repertory in both ranges is a welome one. In the main, these forces remain discrete and the polyphony is performed appropriately by soloists. In one instance, however—at the end of the two-voiced Viderunt—Pitts combines the registers. The octave doubling in itself is not problematic, but in that the doubling requires transforming a solo line into a choral one, there is a loss of responsiveness and flexibility in the process, and that is a loss, albeit only a momentary one.
The performances of these large-scaled organa are otherwise impressive. In the discantus sections—the sections where the notes of all the parts move together in rhythmic pattern—Pitts allows the music to unfold at a congenially leisurely pace. This contrast to many modern performances allows singer and listener alike to dwell in the time rather than to push the time ahead; the more contemplative turn is an attractive one. In the solo sections, Richard Eteson deserves special mention for his wonderfully contoured sense of both individual notes and phrase. Similarly, Rebecca Hickey’s monophonic conductus, Beata viscera, is rapturous, expressive, and exquisite, a memorable opening to the whole program.
The program is one that shows the signs of special care in its construction, for it is obvious that Pitts wants to demonstrate historical development here. For instance, the two-voiced organal setting ofViderunt is followed by substitute clausulae and a motet on part of its foundational chant. The clausulae are short sections of a minute or less, whose purpose in the program is surely instructive, rather than aesthetic. And these are followed in turn by the four-voice setting of the same chant. Thus, in large part, the program is showing a notable variety of ways of treating the same pre-existent melody, and this variety developed within the school of Notre Dame. In a similar vein, Pitts remains instructive with the inclusion of a psalm whose twenty verses are sung in different intervallic configurations to demonstrate the range of possibilities described in the ninth-century treatise, theScholia enchiriadis, famous for being among the first theoretical sources to describe polyphony. It is an interesting pedagogical aside in the program, but one that does not distract from the splendid singing of the large-scale pieces.
The ensemble’s use of Roman Latin pronunciation is curious, and one might have welcomed their sonic palette being extended and enriched with period French pronunciation. This, however, is but a small quibble; the recording is impressive." (Steven Plank)

on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Le Jeu de Robin et de Marion (Naxos 8.557337)
The performances cannot be criticised – full of brilliant and often amusing characterisations, with top-quality and expressive singing from all, as I have come to expect from TONUS PEREGRINUS.
"Adam de la Halle was a thirteenth century trouvère from Northern France, a composer and a poet, who travelled widely and moved in courtly circles. He wrote both words and music for his drama Le Jeu de Robin, and, as such, it is one of the earliest extant examples of a secular play set to music.
Not much survives of the original play - mostly spoken texts with some unaccompanied melodies. This reconstruction is an attempt to make the recording as authentic as possible through the combination of the existing texts of the play along with plainchant, motets and rondeaux of the period.
These components might have formed part of such an entertainment and, in any case, would have been common sounds to de la Halle’s audience. Cleverly, this includes the text spoken in the original French dialect, which is to be heard on the left speaker, while the songs (in French) and English dialogue emerges from your right. This is an interesting method which works extremely well; much fun to be had playing with balances! The whole result is one of spontaneity and improvised freedom, which is very appropriate.
The play, about an amorous knight who makes a play for a shepherdess despite her affection for her lover, is very much based in pastoral tradition. It is full of references to bucolic life, including such aspects as peasant party games and food-related jokes. Consequently, the spirit of the whole piece israther “silly”, but it is none the worse for this, and, as a reconstruction of a mediaeval “musical comedy”, is both entertaining and fascinating from a historical point of view..." (Em Marshall)

EARLY MUSIC (Vol. XXXV, No. 2) March 2007 (online)
on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Sweet Harmony - masses and motets by John Dunstaple [Dunstable] (Naxos 8.557341):
"TONUS PEREGRINUS's Dunstable anthology Sweet Harmony is particularly valuable, in that it includes no fewer than three masses otherwise unrepresented on recordings, as far as I am aware, rather than the usual collection of motets (though the disc also includes the much-recorded Quam pulchra es and Veni Sancte Spiritus—Veni Creator). It is true, as Antony Pitts observes in his notes, that this seminal figure in the history of English music is little known and under-performed; part of this, certainly, is the off-putting aspect of the modern printed editions, but it is also on account of the fact that specialist groups have made only isolated discographical incursions into this repertory (for example, one-off discs by the Hilliard Ensemble and the Orlando Consort, and, further back, the pioneering recordings on Archiv by Pro Cantione Antiqua under Bruno Turner). It will take recordings such as this to bring it within the sights of most normally constituted choirs who routinely tackle later polyphony, for the sublimely high quality of the music is instantaneously evident from these loving performances. I am somewhat bothered by the cavernous resonance of Chancelade Abbey, which occasionally lends a certain ponderousness to the singing (this actually affects Quam pulchra es the most) and the occasional over-enthusiastic entry from the gentlemen, but in general this is a fine recording and a very important addition to the discography. It ends with a canonic Gloria, newly transcribed by Margaret Bent." (Ivan Moody)

CLASSICS TODAY December 2006
on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Sweet Harmony - masses and motets by John Dunstaple [Dunstable] (Naxos 8.557341):
artistic quality 10 / 10 sound quality
"This is an interesting adventure for early music fans - 70 minutes devoted to one of the most influential and respected English composers ever, but one who is rarely heard today except as an occasional contributor to early music compilations... This disc's title, 'Sweet Harmony', comes from the uniquely sonorous feature of Dunstable's music that inspired imitation by composers throughout Europe--the manner in which he used and combined thirds, whether in blocks or as coincidental occurrences among polyphonic parts. The result produces pleasingly vibrant sequences of harmonic consonance, often interrupted with surprising cross-relations or redirected with unusual "backward" harmonic shifts--and there are many times where the boldness of the harmony and complexity of the rhythm can only leave you with renewed respect for this 15th-century music's sophistication and inherent expressive qualities.
The eight voices of TONUS PEREGRINUS - two sopranos, alto, countertenor, three tenors, and bass--make the most of those expressive qualities, in clear, vibrato-colored timbre, captured in the ideally resonant acoustic of Chancelade Abbey in Dordogne, France. The program, which primarily consists of a group of Mass movements framed by two of Dunstable's better-known motets, concludes with a remarkable, recently-discovered Gloria in canon, reconstructed by Margaret Bent and first recorded on the [abovementioned] Orlando Consort disc in five parts - the original probably had six or seven (the full manuscript is not intact). Here, the singers fill out the existing reconstruction with their own realization, adding an accompanying two-part canon to more closely approximate the style and presumed structure of the original. However authentic or inauthentic, it's a marvelous piece and a sublime rendition that, along with the rest of these works, fully justifies the words of Dunstable's famous epitaph, which honors one 'who had secret knowledge of the stars' and 'scattered the sweet arts of music throughout the world.' Outstanding!"

RICK'S BLOG 12 December 2006
on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of The Naxos Book of Carols:
"My first Christmas songlist is actually one album - one which is the closest thing I have heard to the definitive album of Christmas carols. The Naxos Book of Carols is a collection of 24 carols, arranged to represent one for each day of Advent. Commissioned especially for the Naxos label, performed by eight-person choral ensemble TONUS PEREGRINUS, and is an excellent mainstream collection.
The performance in the opening track of 'O come, o come, Emmanuel' was quite a profound revelatory experience for me. A song that I was barely familiar with was transformed in one foul swoop into my favourite Christmas carol of all.
Some of the old standards are there, like 'Silent Night', 'Away in a Manger' (the first Christmas carol I ever learned), 'O come all ye faithful', 'Ding dong merrily on high', 'While Shepherds Watched' and so on. As serious Christmas carol collections go, this one will do me."

LIMELIGHT November 2006
on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Hymns and Songs of the Church (Naxos 8.557681):
"Glenn Gould's favourite composer was Orlando Gibbons (1583 1625), a fact not lost on Tonus Peregrinus' director Antony Pitts, who in his booklet notes quotes Gould extensively. Quite apposite, really, because this new recording, the first of all the hymn melodies by Gibbons which George Wither included in his 1623 collection Hymnes and Songs of the Church, shows Pitts and his youthful vocal ensemble to be just as inventive as Gould when playing Gibbons on the piano. Pitts has divided the disc into eight sections to reflect the Church calendar; within each section Gibbons' tunes (arranged by Pitts or countertenor and jazz bassist Alexander L'Estrange), are contrasted with contemporary hymn settings, also by Pitts and L'Estrange. The arrangements utilise four-part harmony, unison singing and solo voices accompanied by organ and/or double bass, so there's plenty of variety from verse to verse. Since Gibbons provides only the melody and bass line, there's also plenty of scope for realising the inner parts. Here Pitts' writing tends to be more melismatic and modally inflected than L'Estrange's but the results are equally beautiful. The original compositions, too, are filled with gentle dissonances and tasteful word-painting - Pitts' Miserere Domine is particularly fine. Tonus Peregrinus' luminous sound is matched by its near perfect intonation and a real empathy for both music and texts. Those familiar with its previous recordings will know what to expect."

on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Hymns and Songs of the Church (Naxos 8.557681)
"TONUS PEREGRINUS are getting quite a name for themselves. They have been concentrating on medieval and renaissance music. Yet as their conductor is the ever-energetic Antony Pitts it’s not surprising that they have recently released a fine disc of music by him on Hyperion. On the present CD he is again featured as a composer and more especially as an arranger. In this he is joined by his brothers and by Alexander L’Estrange also known as a fine arranger of choral music.
The background to this collection is unique and needs some explanation. For the original 1623 publication, Gibbons, in setting texts by George Wither, with whom he collaborated, only wrote the melody and the bass line. Why? Because he took it for granted that musicians would be adding the inner parts by improvising or by following fairly well oiled rules. In other words the composer, in one sense, only did half the job. It is up to musicians performing this music to make their own contributions. That is what is happening here. Antony Pitts and Alexander L’Estrange have made theircontributions. As Pitts tells us in his booklet notes he has approached the task in three different ways. I quote: 'We have adopted a variety of approaches from unadorned melody via pastiche to exuberantly post-modern counterpoint'. He adds later 'The new hymns by L’Estrange, myself and two ofmy younger brothers, serve both to vary the palette and to show the continuing influence of Hymnes and Songs of the Church on hymn-writing today.'
You might think that there is a curious and somewhat bizarre nepotism going on here but an explanation can be made with regard to the eight different Amens which end each of the sections listed in the header. Pitts tells us that that at the family home 'the Amen was and is sung with ad hoc harmonies by my family at the end of grace before mealtimes'. I wish they would invite me to dinner! So, all the Pitts boys are composers. Therefore why not, if you run a fine choir creatively involve your family?
Yet it should be emphasized that what makes this disc so fascinating, for me anyway, is that it is a collaboration, a holding of hands across the centuries between Orlando Gibbons and four young British composers. The music is performed by a fine group of 21st Century young singers of real talent and commitment. It’s the freshness of the singing that attracts me even in what could be considered a somewhat cerebral project. In all of their discs the choir radiates a real sense of discovery and thrill...
Of course Antony Pitts’ scholarship and exciting sense of discovery spills over into the singing. When they are called together for a new project there must be a real feeling of ‘What we will be doing next?’
...Antony Pitts has also provided a most detailed and interesting description of each section of the CD. There he discusses not only the individual pieces but also the theological basis behind each section, how they are balanced in the full context and how he came to construct the programme..."

CROSS RHYTHMS 5 November 2006
on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Hymns and Songs of the Church (Naxos 8.557681)
"...this is more than a museum piece as Antony Pitts, the director and organist of Tonus Peregrinus, and Alexander L'Estrange, the counter-tenor and double-bassist, have used Gibbons' 1623 original as a resource and trigger. The songs are arranged into eight sequences that follow the Church's year from the "Songs Of Joy" at Advent to the "Songs Of Hope" at All Saints' Day when we consider the life to come. The collection is interleaved with original compositions from the Pitts family as well as new settings of old favourites such as There Is A Green Hill Far Away in the style of Gibbons. The singing is first class throughout and the arrangements are beautifully done. This budget-priced disc must be of interest to any listener who enjoys choral singing either ancient or post-modern."

THE GRAMOPHONE Awards issue 2006
'Truth in the inward parts' as Pitts and Co offer an intriguing harmony lesson
on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Hymns and Songs of the Church (Naxos 8.557681):
"...a valuable documentary for anyone interested in the early development of English hymnody. The collection consists of the melodies and their bass parts, leaving the organist (or even the choir) to improvise the middle parts.... Antony Pitts and Alexander L'Estrange have excelled in fulfilling this task, illustrating both the customary techniques of Gibbons and his generation and introducing some modern, even contemporary harmonizations. We hear Gibbons's attractive and familiar melodies in many guises.... There are also a few examples of new compositions by L'Estrange, Pitts and his younger brothers..."

Gentle Chromaticism
on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Hymns and Songs of the Church (Naxos 8.557681):
"...very attractively and cleverly arranged in a series of eight sequences, each rounded off with a different setting of Amen [ listen -- track 27, 0:00-0:15 ] all drawn from the collection of director Antony Pitts whose family devised them, and many others, for their own mealtimes [listen -- track 33, 0:00-0:13].
The sequences include Pitts' realisations of all the Gibbons Songs (except the few that are sung as unison lines) beautifully interspersed with original hymns by Antony Pitts, his two brothers John and James, and Alexander L'Estrange, the countertenor of the ensemble -- and all with delightful stylistic and devotional cohesion. The gentle chromaticism that invades both the Gibbons arrangements and the new pieces assists each sequence to flow from then to now successfully, and in one case now was just three weeks before the recording session when Antony Pitts completed Hark, my soul! [ listen -- track 32, 1:01-1:33 ] This new hymn ends the sixth sequence, Songs of unity.
Gibbons was an all time favourite composer of Glenn Gould, who was most fond of the hymn Song of Angels included in the group representing joy [ listen -- track 3, 0:00-0:45 ] sounding well with inner parts by Pitts who also plays the chamber organ -- upon which there are occasional interludes based on the Gibbons melodies.
Other groups represent love, sacrifice, lamentation, triumph, faith and hope, that last short sequence including the Prayer of Hezekiah, one of several for which George Wither provided words, followed by the final Amen [ listen -- track 41, 0:43-1:22 and track 42, 0:00-0:17 ].
Some Gibbons songs make more than one appearance; No 13 in the Wither collection for instance is presented with two texts, one by Wither and the other by Frances Havergal, and is also used twice in contrasting organ interludes. The only small doubt in the Wither collection is whether Gibbons did write his 17th contribution, When one among the Twelve there was [listen -- track 29, 0:00-0:30] for it had appeared a few years earlier in a Welsh Psalter by Edmund Prys. But it matters little, and the Pitts arrangement is neatly made." (Patric Standford)

CLASSICS TODAY September 2006
on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Hymns and Songs of the Church (Naxos 8.557681):
artistic quality 9/9 sound quality
"Fans of Orlando Gibbons' church music will be pleased with this generously filled program, which purports to contain 'all of the hymn melodies ascribed to Gibbons' and included in George Wither's 1623 collection Hymns and Songs of the Church. The English chamber vocal ensemble Tonus Peregrinus and its director Antony Pitts have made a fine impression in several earlier recordings (particularly their ambitious Naxos Book of Carols project and their award-winning version of Arvo Pärt's Passio), and they offer the same high standard of performance here. This is uniformly well-balanced ensemble singing, tonally rich, vibrant, and clearly articulated, and the straightforward style perfectly suits Gibbons' functional, easily singable tunes.
Throughout, Gibbons' original melodies and bass lines are fully realized by contributions of inner parts by various arrangers--primarily director Pitts. Sometimes these settings are strictly traditional, but often Pitts and his colleagues take us into entirely new (for Gibbons), strikingly modern harmonic territory. There are a half dozen or so original pieces by Pitts and others among the 42 tracks, most of which have some direct textual or thematic link to Gibbons and the celebrations of the church year. In addition, the program is very intelligently organized with an ear toward key transitions from one track to the next--and with a sense of how to hold interest with so much "block-harmony" style.
Both chamber organ and double bass are used now and then (although I can't figure out the rationale for the latter in this context), and the program's eight sections are separated by 'Amen' interludes apparently arising from a Pitts family mealtime tradition. Besides the various settings of Gibbons' beloved hymn known as 'Song 1', highlights include the delightfully jazzy hymn by Alexander L'Estrange 'As now the sun's declining rays' and the subsequent 'Amen'. And, hooray(!), Naxos handily displays track listings on the back cover of the CD booklet!"

on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Adam de la Halle's Le Jeu de Robin et de Marion (Naxos 8.557337):
"In a review of two anthologies that included excerpts from Adam de la Halle's play about Robin and Marion (Mar/Apr 2005) I expressed my wish for a DVD of the complete work. While this recording is not what I still wish for, Antony Pitts has released a new version of the complete work that presents some problems but is also quite fascinating.
While the earlier truncated recordings were made only in the original Old French [starting with Binkley's very truncated version from 1966, rereleased on Teldec 21709; see also May/June 1992 & Mar/Apr 1994), this recording is an exercise in right and left brain discrimination. Centered in the mix are the original songs in their original language. In the left channel John Crook presents the full text of Adam's playas a dramatic narration in Old French, and alternating with the original in the right channel is a modern English adapta tion by Rosemary and Antony Pitts. While this may at first sound a bit like a Berlitz language tape for Old French, I found that I became involved directly in the story through the Eng lish version but was also trying to hear and learn the subtleties of Adam's original words-and the distinction between the two on this recording is more than linguistic.
The Old French narrator is miked closely, almost as if it were an audio book recording, while the English dramatic version is more distant, as if the players were on a stage acting out this sometimes rather funny mini-drama. While the notes say it is possible to adjust the balance in favor of one language or the other (the songs are common to both), 1 found on various machines that I could never entirely fade out the other side-there were always a few linguistic "ghosts" around.
As inventive as this solution is for the pre sentation of a 13th Century French drama for a contemporary English audience. I still think current technology is not quite up to a multi layered presentation of recorded material. My ideal would have been either two separate recordings (along the lines of the German and English versions by Ute Lemper of Cabaret Songs, Sept/Oct 1997:279 & May/June 1997: 281) or, perhaps by eliminating the extra ron deux, motets, and the excerpt from Adam's Li Jus du Pelerin, the two versions could have fit separately on a single disc. The first solution was most likely unfeasible owing to basic eco nomics, and the second would have been per haps a bit too academic. Pitts has supplied a creative alterative that is reasonable and sometimes extremely funny. My only com plaint is that texts and translations are only included for the play's songs and not for the rondeux and motets used as interludes." (Brewer)

THE TELEGRAPH 2 September 2006
Classical CD of the Week
on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Hymns and Songs of the Church (Naxos 8.557681):
"This disc is an ingenious solution to the problem of making an attractive recording out of a corner of Orlando Gibbons's output which, though very tiny, is far from insignificant. Indeed, it may well be true that the 18 melodies he contributed to the poet George Wither's 1623 collection of Hymnes and Songs of the Church are much more widely familiar than even the best known of his larger works.
Antony Pitts and Alexander L'Estrange have made a splendid job of arranging the tunes in different ways, sometimes with impeccable 17th-century harmonies, full of luscious false relations and richly ornamented, sometimes in more up-to-date and imaginative styles that suit them very well. The use of solo voice and double bass to introduce the Lamentations-based How Sad and Solitary is particularly effective, and Tonus Peregrinus bring an air of suitably restrained sensuality to the settings of texts drawn from the Song of Songs.
Some of the melodies appear several times in various ingenious guises, and the programme is a fine tribute to the durability and versatility of Gibbons's strong and dignified tunes."

on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Adam de la Halle's Le Jeu de Robin et de Marion (Naxos 8.557337):
*****performance *****sound
"This is a story of a shepherdess and her lover whose bliss is briefly interrupted by a randy, passing knight. Composed circa 1286 for the (then) French court in Naples, it has 30 little tunes, but is otherwise mostly dialogue, resembling a musical more than an opera.
There have been other recordings of this piece in France (...) but they do little with the music and concentrate on dramatic effect. Here, the approach is more complex. Out of your left speaker comes the original French text spoken by John Crook and, out of your right, the songs are in French and the play is acted out in English. Owing to excellent recording techniques, this is not as confusing as it suggests. Characters are portrayed simply but with dramatic flair. Kathryn Oswald gives us an almost Julie Andrews-like Marion and Alexander L'Estrange is perfect as silly Robin. Bare melodies are prettily decked out with percussion and strings and we get some extra motets and songs for good measure. It would be hard to present this medieval entertainment in a more winning manner."

A stirring Robin Hood tale and the first medieval 'opera'
on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Adam de la Halle's Le Jeu de Robin et de Marion (Naxos 8.557337):
"This is a CD that demands the undivided attention of the listener... ...This is unquestionably an intriguing and highly original presentation of Adam's masterpiece. One has to accustom oneself to the fine medieval French narration coming in at one's left ear, and the modern English conversational version, giving the gist of it, entering at one's right ear... ...As the story unfolds, it is studded with gems of songs with stirring rhythms, some unaccompanied, others delicately accompanied by a selection of close on 20 early instruments... ...This is an enchanting entertainment, well worth the effort of trying to gather together all the various strands, and then to picture the complete drama in its original medieval context."

FANFARE May/June 2006
on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Sweet Harmony - masses and motets by John Dunstaple[Dunstable] (Naxos 8.557341):
"...It has been a decade since the last full Dunstable disc, one made by the Orlando Consort (19:5)... Even if the field were not so sparse, Pitts's new disc would be welcome for the Mass movements as well as the fine performances. Pitts is giving us an interesting series of medieval programs with this ensemble, consisting of eight voices on this disc. It was made at the same time as the group's recent Perotinus disc. Even with some small duplication among the three CDs of Dunstable, this will make a good addition to any collection."

on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Adam de la Halle's Le Jeu de Robin et de Marion (Naxos 8.557337):
"This CD represents a bold attempt to make Adam de la Halle's Le jeu de Robin et Marion (The Play of Robin and Marion, ca. 1280), perhaps the first secular music drama in the Western tradition, intelligible to a general modern audience. The English ensemble TONUS PEREGRINUS (the name means wandering tone and is taken from a detail of chant theory) combines a scholarly background with a desire to put the fruits of the group's scholarly labors across to nonspecialists. The most unusual detail of this recording is that the play's dialogue is not only included (the manuscripts that preserve the play contain dialogue interspersed with unaccompanied songs) but also translated into English as it goes along...
The result is surely the first Jeu de Robin et Marion that can be listened to by glancing at the booklet rather than keeping one's eyes glued to it... The small instrumental group works well, and the musicians convincingly inflect de la Halle's sparse songs in the direction of romance as required... The performance gives the play the charming directness and earthiness one sometimes finds in medieval art." ( read more... )

on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Adam de la Halle's Le Jeu de Robin et de Marion (Naxos 8.557337):
"...Biographies of Adam de la Halle are littered with the word 'probably' as we know precious little about the life of the French-born composer and poet. The few facts that we have for certain are his period of birth taking place in the mid-13th century and the certainty of his having travelled outside of France. This lack of knowledge is at odds with an unusual amount of his music that has survived, the quality proving that he studied with learned teachers. Through his life he took music technically forward, and moved it away from its sacred roots, his songs pointing to a composer well versed in the music played in French and Italian courts. It is here described as the first known opera, but in reality it is a collection of songs, some probably 'borrowed' by Adam from the popular ditties of the day. These he neatly linked together by spoken text to create a little light-hearted play. The end result - as presented here - is highly attractive, its elements of naughtiness handled with good taste. Two solo singers, who are both outstanding, are employed together with a small chorus, the singing and diction being excellent throughout. The work is performed in an English translation with a narration in French. To separate the two elements, the narrator is placed in a dry acoustic with a lively sound given to the action this is taking place around it..." (read more...)

What exactly is a classic?
on live performance and recording of Arvo Pärt's Passio (Naxos 8.555860):
"...the verdict on Arvo Pärt's Passio was passed down soon after its 1982 Munich première - a contemporary masterpiece that endures today through live performances and recordings...
On Saturday night Norwich's soaring Norman Cathedral was the setting for a performance of Passio. The six immensely demanding solo roles were taken by members of TONUS PEREGRINUS, the instrumentalists were the principals from Chamber Orchestra Anglia, and the University of East Anglia Choir supplied the chorus and promoted the performance. Howard Williams provided incisive conducting which successfully maintained the balance between the soloists and the unusually large choir. 'Remaining in print' may seem a cruelly commercial criteria for judging a work of art. But Arvo Pärt's masterpiece, which is not yet 25 years old, held the large audience spell-bound in rapt silence for more than an hour, surely proof that Marc van Doren's definition is more than just a criteria for bean-counters?
Passio has been recorded several times. If you don't know this work look no further than TONUS PEREGRINUS' award-winning, and very low-priced, Naxos version directed by Antony Pitts, and stunningly recorded in the Abbey Church of St Peter and St Paul in Dorchester-on-Thames, here in the UK. The principal roles are taken by Robert Macdonald (Jesus) and Mark Anderson (Pilate) - the same soloists as for the Norwich performance." (read more...)

THE TELEGRAPH 4 February 2006 - Classical CD of the Week
on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Sweet Harmony - masses and motets by John Dunstaple[Dunstable] (Naxos 8.557341):
"This fascinating disc provides a first-class introduction to the earliest named English composer who had a substantial body of great music to his credit. Even better, its bargain price puts it within the reach of any listener interested in exploring a period when England was one of Europe's most important and influential musical nations.
John Dunstable (c1390-1453) was renowned on the continent for his use of the 'contenance angloise', the sweetly harmonious style characterised by successions of thirds and triads. This helped to transform the 15th-century musical landscape - and still makes his music immensely pleasant to listen to. The richly sonorous motet Quam pulchra es and the Kyrie at the start of this well-planned programme have a beauty and expressiveness that transcend the lapse of time, as does the ethereally lovely Sanctus for three high voices. In these pieces, as in the faster-moving and more intricately polyphonic Gloria and Credo settings, TONUS PEREGRINUS sing with an impressive understanding of this highly sophisticated music, with its complex rhythms, luxuriantly interweaving melodic lines and exciting climaxes, enabling listeners to share their obvious enjoyment of it.." (read more...) February 2006
on TONUS PEREGRINUS recording of Sweet Harmony - masses and motets by John Dunstaple[Dunstable] (Naxos 8.557341):
"Goodness me, how many superlative groups of ancient music specialists can there be? Here is yet another, predictably brought to us by Naxos. There are 8 singers directed by Antony Pitts, and the group photograph also shows us Jeremy Summerly himself in a daft-looking hat as producer, and also, most properly, the engineer Geoff Miles whose work I would call absolutely outstanding...
At the musical level by and large the liner-note is awesomely learned but slightly heavy going. It is worth absorbing slowly, but the most significant thing it says is really its naïve proclamation of how marvellous the music is. This is the dawn of the elaborate harmonisation that makes European music, so far as I know, unique, and the thrill and sense of awe that go with that are enormous for one kind of listener at least...
The recital starts with one motet and ends with another, followed by a gloria that 'we' have completed from the restored but deficient MS. 'We' have done just brilliantly if I may say so - this is what music-making is all about, but it needs the right level of talent. The performing artists consist of 2 sopranos, 1 female and 1 male alto, 3 tenors and a single bass. I have to take the historical authenticity of this, just as I have to take the tempi adopted, on faith once again. I believe the phrase is 'It works for me'. What is beyond much question is the sheer quality of the singing, and what I want to sing my own praises of is the recording, which has a perfect sense of spaciousness together with perfect clarity.
I hope I will be believed when I say that I have no link of any kind with Naxos. I collect their discs because of what these are and because of what my tastes and standards in good music are...
Go forth in droves and acquire this disc." (read more...)

Not the Grammy Awards ...
on Seven Letters and other sacred choral music by Antony Pitts (Hyperion CDA67507) and Leonin / Perotin - Sacred Music from Notre-Dame Cathedral (Naxos 8.557340):
"...Here for starters are four of the best new classical releases featured On An Overgrown Path in the last twelve months which didn't appear among the Grammy winners... to show I do really love Naxos I nominate for a 'Not a Grammy Award' their excellent release of medieval sacred music from the Notre-Dame school featuring works by Leonin and Perotin. The performers are TONUS PEREGRINUS directed by Antony Pitts, and this noteworthy CD featured in both my Jerry Springer rebel grabs Gramophone accolade and Raindrops are falling on my chant articles. The good news is that although this disc didn't make the Grammys it is the only early music recording shortlisted for the 2006 BBC Music Magazine Awards. To complete the journey from medieval to modern there is another release featuring Antony Pitts, this time with him both as conductor and composer. Seven Letters is an always topical choral setting of St John's damning indictment of the depravity of the first-century church in Asia Minor from the Book of Revelations. It was composed in 1998 but was not recorded until last year, and is scored for SSAATTBB. All credit to Hyperion for investing in new choral music, and for reminding everyone that recorded contemporary choral music is alive and kicking on both sides of the Atlantic. It was a Gramophone Editor's Choice , but wasn't on the radar of the Grammy Recording Academy. Take An Overgrown Path to Jerry Springer rebel grabs Gramophone accolade for more about Seven Letters and a four minute audio sample of this fine contemporary composition." (read more...)

on Sweet Harmony - masses and motets by John Dunstaple [Dunstable] (Naxos 8.557341):
"...The singing of the stratospherically high solo voices in the Sanctus (sine nomine) is stunning, but the star of the show is the newly-deciphered canonic Gloria with its splendid passing dissonances. The ensemble has a highly developed sense of line (which allows the music time to speak), as well as of ensemble; and if the voice types aren't always a complete match, the sound is ravishing."

FANFARE November/December 2005
on Leonin / Perotin - Sacred Music from Notre-Dame Cathedral (Naxos 8.557340):
"We have heard this vocal group in a Mass of Tournai with the anonymous St. Luke Passion, a juxtaposition of French and English music of the late Middle Ages, and Arvo Pärt's Passio at the other end of the millennium. Now they have turned to an even earlier period, Notre-Dame polyphony, using new editions made by Antony Pitts, the director of the ensemble. Eight adult mixed voices make up the group, singing in octaves in the chant Viderunt which precedes the two-voice setting, which is then followed by the four-voice setting attributed (by Anonymus IV) to Perotinus....Three of the seven pieces named by Anonymus IV as works of Perotinus are included on this disc, including the two masterpieces for four voices that are connected with events of 1198 and 1199...
These relaxed performances seem less intense than the previous recordings that have been successive hallmarks of the repertoire. The sound of mixed voices, which would never have been heard in Notre Dame at the time, is a problem. So are the dates assigned to each name, which are speculative and undocumented, hence can be misleading even if "flourished"; and "circa"; are added to the dates. The disc was produced by Jeremy Summerly, exactly a year before he made the new Tallis disc with his old ensemble. The venue was Chancelade abbey in the Dordogne, a wonderfully reverberant space not known before as a recording site...
Despite the caveats, this is a marvelous disc." (J. F. Weber) (read more...)

FANFARE November/December 2005
on Seven Letters and other sacred choral music by Antony Pitts (Hyperion CDA67507):
"...As the comparisons with Pärt and Lauridsen suggest, Pitts's harmonic language is rich with added seconds and piquant cross-relations-though the earliest piece, The First and Last, is robustly, joyously triadic, and I for one hope that Pitts hasn't revoked his self-granted permission to write in this mode when he feels like it.
Most of the music on this program is performed one to a part; in this context, unlike a larger ensemble, one expects individual voices to be discernable, but still sufficiently well matched in strength and timbre as to produce a seamless musical fabric. I cannot find even the tiniest fault with TONUS PEREGRINUS in this respect.
...My first impulse on hearing this disc was to commend it unreservedly to each and every man, woman, and child on the planet, including those who think they don't like religious music, choral music, or music...
Heatedly recommended." (read more...)
ALL MUSIC GUIDE November 2005
"the first collection of Dunstable that truly makes clear what was different about his music"
on Sweet Harmony - masses and motets by John Dunstaple [Dunstable] (Naxos 8.557341):*****performance *****sound
"English composer John Dunstable was the Beethoven of the fifteenth century, a transitional figure whose work swept away all that went before it...
TONUS PEREGRINUS, a vocal ensemble made up of first-rank singers led by Pitts, address the considerable intricacies of this music with a deft touch and flawless intonation. The texture moves from anywhere between two to eight voices, but sounds neither asthmatically thin nor well-fed and tubby; throughout it is perfectly rounded, well balanced, and seems suspended in mid-air, just as cathedral music should sound. The Gloria and Credo "Jesu Christe Fili Dei" are given in particularly deep and moving performances...
Notwithstanding the Orlando Consort and others who have interpreted his music, this seems like the first collection of Dunstable that truly makes clear what was different about his music versus that of his predecessors, or for that matter, successors. This is attributable to Pitts' superb grasp of what makes Dunstable's music tick. After some time spent immersed in John Dunstable: Sweet Harmony - masses and motets , one will hear the biting dissonances of Dunstable's false relations as though they are consonant intervals, much as his audiences heard them in the early fifteenth century. John Dunstable: Sweet Harmony - masses and motets serves as a wonderful gateway to the music of the man who fostered the Renaissance. " (read more...)

THE GRAMOPHONE November 2005
on Sweet Harmony - masses and motets by John Dunstaple [Dunstable] (Naxos 8.557341):
"commendably courageous"

on Sweet Harmony - masses and motets by John Dunstaple [Dunstable] (Naxos 8.557341):*****performance ****sound
"Following their excellent survey of the Notre-Dame school TONUS PEREGRINUS release this showcase for one of English music's giants... There are very few CDs of his music in catalogue, so this one is doubly welcome...
...the structural adventurousness is unalloyed Dunstaple, and Antony Pitts talks us through the subtle complexities of his rhythmic, harmonic and contrapuntal explorations in the informative booklet. Ultimately, of course, it is not the technical inventiveness that involves us, but the beauty and the mystery of the sound...;on these counts both the compositions and TONUS PEREGRINUS's performances score highly"

CROSS RHYTHMS November 2005
on Sweet Harmony - masses and motets by John Dunstaple [Dunstable] (Naxos 8.557341):
rating 9/10
"John who? For many years we were not even sure of his name as it is sometimes given as Dunstaple. Likewise, we do not even know for certain when he was born. Some time round 1390 seems most likely. So why should we care? Can you name an English composer earlier than Dunstable? And he is of more than local interest as he is arguably the forefather of the musical Renaissance...
...Under Antony Pitts TONUS PEREGRINUS have become a leading vocal ensemble and present Dunstable's work as beautifully as we could wish. The booklet notes are informative and the price is generous so there is no good reason not to investigate further."

OXFORD TODAY Michaelmas Term 2005
on Seven Letters and other sacred choral music by Antony Pitts (Hyperion CDA67507) and Leonin / Perotin - Sacred Music from Notre-Dame Cathedral (Naxos 8.557340):
"...The discs cover music 800 years apart. Pitts' own works (CDA67507) display a remarkable control of structure and a gift for striking musical phrases (like the one pervading Adoro Te ). The music has the cold fire of the ascetic; dissonance floods across pure lines like sudden wind across clear water...
Pitts' disc of the earliest Western polyphony, by Leonin and others (8.557340) is likewise superbly sung..."

CROSS RHYTHMS October 2005
on Seven Letters and other sacred choral music by Antony Pitts (Hyperion CDA67507):
rating 10/10
"A number of contemporary composers are exploring early music as a source of inspiration, among them Arvo Pärt. Antony Pitts is clearly influenced by Pärt's ideas and if you like Pärt, you'll probably like this too. The pieces set texts from St Thomas Aquinas, the Gospels, Revelation, Angelus Silesius and the Advent 'O' Antiphons to shifting choral harmonies sung exquisitely by TONUS PEREGRINUS. All eight are soloists in their own right and won acclaim with Pitts for their award-winning recording of Pärt's Passio on Naxos. The voices are unaccompanied throughout but the texture is rich. I imagine these pieces are difficult to learn but oh so rewarding to sing once it all falls into place. I particularly like The First and Last which has hymnic qualities and a decidedly hummable melody. I've played this CD a lot and expect to play it a good many times more."

EARLY MUSIC TODAY October/November 2005
on Leonin / Perotin - Sacred Music from Notre-Dame Cathedral (Naxos 8.557340) and Seven Letters and other sacred choral music by Antony Pitts (Hyperion CDA67507):
"...with the high-profile resignation from the BBC over its Springer television broadcast behind him, [Antony Pitts] is immersed in a series of Naxos recordings examining landmarks in choral history with his vocal ensemble TONUS PEREGRINUS. And landmarks don't come much more dramatic than that represented in the music written by Léonin and Pérotin for Notre-Dame...
...the sound is bright and clear, blessed with that floaty Chancelade Abbey acoustic...
...the haunting sounds of sopranos Joanna Forbes and Rebecca Hickey provide some of the most memorable moments.
In the Naxos/TONUS PEREGRINUS pipeline are CDs devoted to such projects as masses of John Dunstable and music by Gibbons. Intriguingly, Hyperion have just released the recording which in fact first attracted Naxos chief Klaus Heymann to TONUS PEREGRINUS - an album of music by Pitts himself focused on his Seven Letters , claimed as perhaps 'the only choral setting of St John's damning indictment of the 1st-century Church in Asia Minor.'
That Pitts. Just can't keep away from controversy."

read more... MUSICWEB September 2005 RECORDING OF MONTH
on Leonin / Perotin - Sacred Music from Notre-Dame Cathedral (Naxos 8.557340):
"...recorded by the nine-strong group TONUS PEREGRINUS. It follows their wonderful recording of the Missa Tournai which came out last year. This disc has proved to be even better. In fact it is one of the most intriguing discs of 12th/13th-century music issued for some time...
...TONUS PEREGRINUS have a new approach, in fact several new approaches. These throw new light on this repertoire and make for a fascinating and generous seventy minutes of listening... ideal acoustic with real atmosphere. It is also aided by superb singing which is not only powerful but also sensitive to dynamic variation...
...a terrific sense of accumulating architecture....
...a simple and moving unaccompanied performance of Perotin's Beata Viscera by the perfect Rebecca Hickey...
...The CD booklet is a model of its kind. All tracks are clearly explained. There is a superb introductory explanation by an expert...
To sum up. A wonderful seventy minutes of the earliest polyphonic music known in Europe. Praise cannot be high enough for the entire project and team. One of my recordings of the year so far. You should go out and buy it instantly." (read more...)

read more... ALL MUSIC GUIDE September 2005
"one of the very best recorded options ever made for this music"
on Leonin / Perotin - Sacred Music from Notre-Dame Cathedral (Naxos 8.557340):*****performance *****sound
"...a group of expert singers...TONUS PEREGRINUS, under the direction of Antony Pitts, ...emphasizes the importance of skilled solo singers in this literature by inaugurating the disc with an outstanding rendering of Perotin's monophonic conductus setting of Beata viscera, sung magnificently by Rebecca Hickey...
...TONUS PEREGRINUS marries these principles to a setting of Psalm 115, Non nobis domine, and in some places the voices seem to lift into the stratosphere - it is a truly 'heavenly effect' that has to be heard to be believed. In works by Léonin and Pérotin, the Organum travels at the same speed as the plainchant, a radically different approach from virtually all other choirs, which tend to perform the Organum at a faster clip as opposed to the chant. It makes a huge difference in the sound of the composition, and makes total sense in terms of realizing this style...
...the manifestation of the Organa in Leonin/Perotin: Sacred Music from Notre-Dame Cathedral is redolent with the atmosphere we know from the books, architecture, and painting of that distant time, and is one of the very best recorded options ever made for this music." (read more...)

on XL (Harmonia Mundi HMC801873) performed by the Berlin Radio Choir / Simon Halsey:
"...helped by imaginative surround sound and rich choral singing, [the disc] is crowned by Antony Pitts's Tallis-inspired XL."

on XL (Harmonia Mundi HMC801873) etc:
"Great news for new music. Yesterday on an overgrown path was read by more people than on any day since it started twelve months ago. And what attracted that record number of readers at a time when many are taking a well deserved holiday? - two posts about contemporary composers Odaline de la Martinez and Antony Pitts. ...the bottom line is that those two new music posts attracted more readers than Leonard Bernstein, Jacques Loussier, or those BBC Beethoven MP3 files. That's great news for all of us who are rooting for new music."

BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE August 2005 - Choral & Song Choice
"An utterly beguiling introduction to Léonin and Pérotin"
on Leonin / Perotin - Sacred Music from Notre-Dame Cathedral (Naxos 8.557340):
"...none of the available collections, I think, quite matches the approach of this album in the way it helps the listener make connections between the different forms of organum... ...Scholarly the approach may be, but dry it ain't.....on the contrary, this is an ideal introduction to this music, better even - and I thought I'd never say this - than David Munrow's Music of the Gothic Era. The clarity, balance, sensitivity and sheer beauty of the performances makes for an utterly beguiling 70 minutes, from the opening Beata viscera, a lovely solo by soprano Rebecca Hickey, to the final four-part compositions."

THE GRAMOPHONE August 2005 - Editor's Choice
on Seven Letters and other sacred choral music by Antony Pitts (Hyperion CDA67507):
"Gloriously sung by this superb choir, Antony Pitts's collection of choral music has the potential to be a real runaway success. His is a compositional voice of real personality and imagination (no surprise to those of us who have admired Pitts's work as a truly original producer at BBC Radio 3...) Beautifully recorded, here's a collection of new music that has immediate appeal without ever relaxing into the 'easy' or the saccharine."

THE TELEGRAPH 6 August 2005 - Classical CD of the Week
on Leonin / Perotin - Sacred Music from Notre-Dame Cathedral (Naxos 8.557340):
"Building a programme of music around a non-musical concept may or may not work in practice, but this utterly spellbinding disc is a fine example of how successful such a project can be. It relates the increasing complexity and sophistication of the music written for the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris during the later 12th century to the contemporaneous stages of its construction. This is truly great music. Rebecca Hickey brings a beautiful tenderness and sense of wonder to Pérotin's unaccompanied single-line Beata viscera. The disc also reveals Léonin's varied and fascinating exploration of the possibilities of two-part writing, and the overwhelming grandeur and mind-boggling intricacies in Pérotin's monumental four-part settings of Viderunt omnes and Sederunt principes. TONUS PEREGRINUS sing with forthright confidence and a strong sense of rhythmic purpose, in both lilting triple-time passages and more harmonically static sections, which develop an almost hypnotic quality. They communicate their infectious enthusiasm for this distant sound-world, and recreate it most persuasively."

"A composer on a spiritual quest who's found the near-perfect singers for it"
on Seven Letters and other sacred choral music by Antony Pitts (Hyperion CDA67507):
"The Amen motet, two separate four-part groups of singers sharing the single word for almost nine minutes, comes at the end of this recital and impresses as a summation of Antony Pitts' work as represented. It seems rhapsodic but is carefully structured: a rich harmonic and contrapuntal score that always engages and can entrance...
...Pitts has also a fund of lively musical ideas. In the Seven Letters a solo voice (different each time) takes up the epistle's text while the other singers may hold a chord or punctuate with a monosyllabic or a staccato commentary; and then often a particularly lovely effect is achieved as all eight parts enter in fluid polyphony...
...TONUS PEREGRINUS is a double quartet of expert singers brought together by the composer. With firm, fresh voices and precise intonation, and almost (not quite) invariably sensitive to balance, they sound as ideal a he is likely to find this side of the Heaven to which so much of his music aspires." (John Steane)

on Seven Letters and other sacred choral music by Antony Pitts (Hyperion CDA67507):****performance ****sound
"...striking use of dynamic and spatial effects. The performances are excellent."

CLASSICAL NET 5 August 2005
on Seven Letters and other sacred choral music by Antony Pitts (Hyperion CDA67507):
"...the originality and inventiveness of the music bowled me over... ...I need not stress that this group delivers immaculate performances of these works coupled with Hyperion's usual taste for the unusual and outstanding engineering; this is a disc to treasure."

on Seven Letters and other sacred choral music by Antony Pitts (Hyperion CDA67507):
"Antony Pitts seems to be having the last laugh on the Jerry Springer – The Opera affair as his highly acclaimed new work Seven Letters is a choral setting of St John's damning indictment of the depravity of the first-century church in Asia Minor from the Book of Revelation..."

on Leonin / Perotin - Sacred Music from Notre-Dame Cathedral (Naxos 8.557340):
"This budget priced CD is one of the most rewarding I've heard for years... ...The opening track with Rebecca Hickey singing Perotin's Beata viscera contains six minutes of the most ravishing sounds you will ever hear..."

SEQUENZA 21 26 July 2005
Jerry Springer rebel grabs Gramophone accolade
on Seven Letters and other sacred choral music by Antony Pitts (Hyperion CDA67507)

on XL (Harmonia Mundi HMC801873) programmed and conducted by Simon Halsey:
" keep the best to last: that is XL, an impressively inventive and resourceful companion to Spem by Antony Pitts..."

CLASSICS TODAY July/August 2005
on XL (Harmonia Mundi HMC801873) conducted by Simon Halsey:
artistique 10/10 technique
"XL, pour choeur extra-large ! XL, pour 40, 40 comme le nombre de voix du célèbre motet de Tallis, Spem in alium. XL , titre d'une ambitieuse partition chorale du compositeur anglais Antony Pitts (né en 1969), en hommage à Tallis, son glorieux prédécesseur à la Chapelle Royale. Cet enregistrement devrait faire date dans le répertoire choral. Le SACD est techniquement réussi: cinq configurations différentes ont été adoptées, en fonction de l'agencement spatial des compositions, les possesseurs d'installations multicanal apprécieront! ...L'oeuvre de Pitts est fort intéressante, lisible et par moments hyper-expressive, notamment la troisième partie qui explose sur les paroles "et dedit in ore meo". ...La prise de son contribue à ce résultat étonnant...
...XL, comme excellence!" (Sylvain Gasser)

on Seven Letters and other sacred choral music by Antony Pitts (Hyperion CDA67507):
" is enormously encouraging that every bar of his music is eminently singable... ...he is, undoubtedly, a serious and committed composer, and the quality of the singing here is quite outstanding."

MUSIC WEB July 2005
on Seven Letters and other sacred choral music by Antony Pitts (Hyperion CDA67507):
"...This collection of pieces indicates that Antony Pitts is an original and thoughtful composer with his own distinctive voice. His music is accessible but I should imagine it makes considerable demands on the performers, not that you'd be aware of that while listening to the assured singing of Tonus Peregrinus. Pitts writes well for the human voice and, crucially, has a discerning eye for a text and for verbal imagery. This is an interesting and satisfying disc, which I'm very happy to recommend." July 2005
on Seven Letters and other sacred choral music by Antony Pitts (Hyperion CDA67507):
"Qui est Antony Pitts, me demanderez-vous, et je vous répondrai : aucune idée. Je lis donc le livret et voici ce que l'on peut en distiller. Pitts est producteur à la BBC depuis une douzaine d'années, ce qui ne l'empêche pas de composer et de remporter de nombreuses distinctions internationales, en particulier pour ses œuvres chorales - dans la lignée des grands musiciens de chœur anglaise - que chantent tous les plus grands ensembles britanniques et continentaux. Son langage musical, tonal mais pas trop, moderne sans être radical-boulézien, beau sans jamais être "facile", se situe sur une ligne tracée entre Holst et Britten en passant par Vaughan Williams, Byrd, Pärt, Tallis, et certains quartiers de Harlem - une ligne singulièrement courbe, certes, mais parfaitement continue pour peu que l'on veuille bien la suivre. C'est Antony Pitts en personne qui dirige le chœur Tonus Peregrinus, qu'il a fondé en 1990."

on A Strange Eventful History on BBC Radio 3:
"Last night's Between the Ears (Radio 3), A Strange Eventful History, was a weird melee, possibly best enjoyed, like much late night on this network, not completely compos. The seven ages of man, as delineated by Jacques in As You Like It.....The hero of the programme was, of course, the oldest man, a veteran soldier.....He had never given death a thought before reaching 90 and now anticipated the Second Coming first. 'I firmly believe in the Coming of the Lord. When that happens, things will change a great deal.' Indeed. At one point, he suddenly asked the producer how old he was. 'Thirty-five.''Thirty-five? Oh yes,' the veteran said, knowledgeably. At the very end, he was heard suddenly asking: 'It's the first time you've done this sort of thing, is it?' Marvellous."

CHOIR & ORGAN September/October 2004
on book (score) of The Naxos Book of Carols:
"The record label Naxos, which with its competitive prices and wide repertoire has already proved its power to reach parts of the retail market that other classical labels can only dream of, has collaborated with Faber Music and the professional chamber choir TONUS PEREGRINUS in this venture, partially launched last Christmas and now come to full fruition...
...These 24 carols, presented in groupings telling the Nativity story chronologically were released on CD last year, performed by TONUS PEREGRINUS for whom they were written or arranged by the group's director Antony Pitts. Through a page on Faber's website audio samples of the carols could [and can still] be heard or sheet music of individual pieces downloaded for £10 per carol. Now the complete collection has been published in a single volume book and CD package, at the excellent price of £9.95 for one, or £79.95 for 10-packs (each book still coming with CD)...
...A good amateur choir will easily be able to perform these pieces. Less confident singers are unlikely to be intimidated by the task of learning a handful of the arrangements within a few weeks in preparation for a Christmas service or concert, and the accompaniments are not difficult - although for pianists with small hands there are a few awkward stretches, and keyboard players who are used to getting through Christmas on auto pilot will have to keep their wits about them...
...Whether a few of these carols are interspersed with seasonal music by other composers, or whether they form a Pitts Nine Lessons and Carols the results should be refreshing and rewarding."

THE GUARDIAN 29 March 2004
on A Pebble in the Pond on BBC Radio 3:
"...this richly dazzling piece of radio..."

MUSIC WEB January 2004
on recording of The Naxos Book of Carols:
"These new arrangements, interspersed with a small number of originals, have been commissioned especially for this recording from the director of the eight part vocal ensemble TONUS PEREGRINUS, Antony Pitts. Organised as an Advent sequence with a carol for each day, the twenty-four carols are bracketed into four groups, The Hope, The Message, The Baby and The King of Kings.
...With an eye on the lucrative seasonal music market amongst amateur choirs, the music is all down-loadable via the Faber Music website.....a disc that is a pleasure to listen to for the quality of the singing alone.
...In O quickly come, a quirky little original in 7/8 time, the detailed counterpoint is strikingly effective and whilst no doubt tricky to sing (TONUS PEREGRINUS make it sound admirably easy with diction of the highest quality) I can see this becoming a popular addition to the seasonal choral repertoire. In similar fashion Ding! Dong! merrily on high features some athletic and admirably well-articulated singing, the semi quaver runs that abound being heard with crystal precision...
...I particularly enjoyed the more familiar Personent hodie, Pitts weaving In dulci jubilo into the organ part of the final verse whilst a sparklingly joyful realisation of Good King Wenceslas also works particularly well..."


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