This is a specially-priced, 4-CD boxed set of four popular albums from the Voices of Ascension series: Beyond Chant – Mysteries of the Renaissance (DE 3165) From Chant to Renaissance (DE 3174) Mysteries Beyond – Songs and Chants in Praise of Mary (DE 3138), and Hear My Prayer (DE 3300). This sumptuous survey of great choral music was recorded in the warm, natural acoustic of the Church of the Ascension in New York City, with Delos’ “demonstration standard” sound (Gramophone). Further accolades come from Billboard Classical Charts — ” … a wonderfully satisfying cross section of Renaissance music”; USA Today — “A classy offering.. memorable…”; New York Daily News — “Sheer musical excellence … Mr. Keene drew an intensity from his singers that effectively tapped into both the meditative and ecstatic currents of the music.”; The New York Times — “The choral sound of the Voices of Ascension represents the finest in American choral music.”; Stereophile — “… a cohesive, gorgeously blended ensemble.” The New York Times added, “As for Dennis Keene, there isn’t a better choral conductor around.”
As reported in The Washington Post, “A live performance of some of the music in this wonderful collection inspired Dennis Keene to write: “The setting was the place where we originated, and where we still perform: the Church of the Ascension, the oldest church building on Fifth Avenue. The day of the concert we were in a panic because the 17th (!) blizzard of the winter was hitting the city… Much to our astonishment, by 8:05 PM the church was jam-packed. Every nook and cranny was filled with people who had fought their way through the snowstorm, the stalled traffic, the overcrowded subways, and the dangerous, icy sidewalks. I will never forget the atmosphere of the room when we started our first piece, Palestrina’s Sicut cervus. As soon as the tenors came out with their first note there was a remarkable calm and silence in the room, and hardly a cough or jostled program was heard for the next hour and a quarter. These were ‘hassled’ city people who were in need of the beautiful spiritual world these pieces had to offer. I think that as our modern lives get more and more noisy and cluttered we yearn for a more peaceful and transcendent world. Perhaps that explains the recent interest in the antique music of the church – the music heard in the old basilicas, cathedrals and monasteries of Europe.’ “
The set offers more than 4 1/2 hours of choral masterpieces, including Gregorian Chant and music by Bach-Gounod, Bainton, Batten, Bruckner, Byrd, Casals, Dufay, Durufle, Farrant, Faure, Franck, Gibbons, Hassler, Hildegard v. Bingen, Holst, Howells, Ingegneri, Isaac, Josquin Desprez, Lassus, Leo, Lotti, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Palestrina, Parry, Schubert, Schutz, Stanford, Stradella/Niemeyer, Sweelinck, Tallis, Tchaikovsky, Thompson, Tolstiakov, Tye, Viadana, Victoria, and Weelkes.