Anton Bruckner is what you would call a "golden standard" for late romantic classical music. He joins Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler as they have demonstrated their unshakeable talents by producing mesmerizing melodies and illuminating structures in their compositions. I myself didn't get a chance to explore Bruckner's musical world until I bought a CD a few years ago that featured his motets. They didn't bring any tears to my eyes, but I did acknowledge the sheer beauty of his motets. The CD persuaded me to get into more of Bruckner's music. And up next came his three Masses.
This 3-CD set contains the Te Deum, the Libera Me, and the three complete Masses (which last about forty to sixty minutes each). These works are similar to choral music by Brahms, except that it lacks classical tones and textures. Much of it sounds almost Straussian, though not by much. It's late romanticism at its most effective. This is the kind of music that would help you relax (though I wouldn't use it for a spa since there are plenty of loud moments here and there). Spiritualism is put to the max: the deep religious structure of these works are near ideal for those who are especially religious.
Maestro Matthew Best knows his Bruckner. He never tends to provide distractions with an overly dramatic feel. The interpretations are mostly measured, with slow tempi being the norm. Fortunately, Best never sounds tedious and adrenaline can still be high when it's necessary. The conducting isn't as volatile as, say, Sir Georg Solti or Charles Dutoit or even Esa-Pekka Salonen, but it's enough to sustain interest.
The Corydon Singers are superb. They handle the text extremely well, and their diction is never awkward or unrehearsed. It's one of the more beautiful-sounding choirs in Europe as of this moment.
The Corydon Orchestra and the English Chamber Wind Ensemble give impressive performances. They sound clear and professional. I can't really complain about their presence on CD.
The soloists (which include Keith Lewis and Alastair Miles) give fine performances. Spectacular singing throughout. And finally, sound quality from Hyperion is a plus.
Grade: 9.7 out of 10