A Wondrous Mystery – Renaissance Choral Music for Christmas

Reviewed on Fri 29 Jan, 2016

With “A Wondrous Mystery” Stile Antico have created a festive album that you’ll be more than happy to play any week of the year.

Most Christmas albums spend fifty or so weeks gathering dust on a shelf. But remarkably with “A Wondrous Mystery” Stile Antico have created a festive album that you’ll be more than happy to play any week of the year. Even granted that texts like Hodie Christus Natus Est are a bit of a giveaway, the Latin motets and Clemens non Papa’s lovely Missa Pastores quidnam vidistis ('Shepherds, what have you seen?') were never likely to strike the ear as especially Christmassy anyway. While the vernacular (German) carols are mercifully far enough removed from the corpus of English festive classics to be free of all supermarket aisle associations. Michael Praetorius’s famous Es ist ein Ros entsprungen ('A Rose has sprung') is the closest thing to a German Lutheran Christmas hit, but here and elsewhere Stile Antico delightfully evoke the spirit of the season without any of the associated clichés.
–Mark Walker