--> original Review

In the Middle Ages the reverence of Saint Nicholas wasn't only limited to Christmas season, as it is today. Tacet, using this forgotten tradition, decided to release this album before December the 6th (2014).

Santa we know today was based on Saint Nicholas, also called Nikolaos of Myra a historic 4th-century Christian saint and Greek Bishop of Myra. The oldest historical records of him come from the 6th century. His name was removed from the official list of Catholic Church saints only by Vatican Council II.

Many musical pieces coming from England, France and Switzerland refer to this saint. Ensemble Peregrina chose almost 30 most interesting ones that were created between 11th and 15th century, and Andreas Spreer recorded them during a puristic session in Basel in November 2013. The ensemble was lead by Ms Agnieszka Budzi?ska-Bennett, ist founder – a Pole currently living in Switzerland. Ms Agnieszka graduated in Basel from Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and decided to stay in the city for good.

We know the ensemble and ist leader from their performances, for example during Misteria Paschalia festival in Cracow. We know that they specialize in recording music that is rarely performed – one of the recordings I remember really well is Filia Praeclara, recorded for Divox Antiqua with music from 13th and 14th century Polish Clarisse Convents (2008). It served as a reference point for me. For the other one I chose Legends of St Nicholas (1999) by Anonymous 4 with similar music, recorded for Harmonia Mundi France.

The music on the latest Ensemble recording delights with wonderful ease of flow, and with ist coherence. Although music performed by Anonymous 4 sounds already very well, Tacet sounds even better. A slightly higher pace of this music improves ist coherence.

Also sound-wise this is a very interesting recording. Voices takes from the same perspective as on Harmonia Mundi recording, seem more resolving, and the acoustics of the recording is presented in a better, more precise way. Sound definition is also definitely better. Sound of Anonymous 4 seems more focused on the midrange and thus it sound is warmer. It lacks openness of Mr Spreer's recording though. In comparison, Divox recording shows that microphones were placed very close to the ensemble during recording. It creates an impression of a very close, direct contact between performers and listener, but it also changes tonality of the recording making it bit too bright. Miracula… is a wonderful recording nicely “sustaining” Tacet's deserved reputation.

Wojciech Pacuła

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