Critics’ Choice 2019: our writers name their favourite classical albums of the year

"Is there a modern ‘early-music’ ensemble with quite so many rapt, ravishing and rhetorically convincing recordings of late? Vox Luminis’s open-hearted enquiry into four top Bachs – great uncle, two old cousins and their pupil, JSB – brings resonating meaning to the young man’s finest early masterpiece, Christ lag in Todesbanden. Ecstatic listening."

Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Gramophone
Vox Luminis – A Well-Named Ensemble

"Vox Luminis discoursed with utmost clarity and powerful rhetoric—a treat for all."

Benjamin Rechel, Boston Musical Intelligencer
Belgian Choral Ensemble Vox Luminis Celebrates Two Centuries of Sacred Music by the Bach Family

"Vox Luminis, the formidable Belgian vocal ensemble, offered an astonishing concert of 17th and 18th-century German Lutheran choral music Sunday at La Jolla’s St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church.

"Although this programming premise could have turned into a worthy but didactic music history exercise, Vox Luminis Artistic Director Lionel Meunier and his twelve musical colleagues transcended that modest goal with their vibrant vocal technique and deft showmanship."

Ken Herman, San Diego Story
Lammermuir Festival opening weekend, various venues, East Lothian

"It would probably have been enough simply to immerse yourself in their exceptionally beautiful, superbly balanced, goosebump-inducing sound, sumptuous as velvet yet crystal clear in its text delivery. But it was the almost operatic will to convey meaning that stood out, in the subtly differentiated sections of Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli and even more so among the unpredictable harmonic complexities of Victoria’s 1605 Requiem. Led by bass Lionel Meunier, who gently coaxed his colleagues from within the group, it was a truly transporting performance, at once deeply spiritual and firmly grounded in meaning and drama."

David Kettle, The Scotsman
Recording of the Month: A Spellbinding Bach family gathering

"In this project Vox Luminis celebrates not just the Bach family, but the power of music-making itself."

BBC Music Magazine
Bach family

"Throughout this beguiling programme, Vox Luminis inhabit a world from which you'll need to drag yourself away."

Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Gramophone
The best new classical albums: August 2019

"Lionel Meunier’s deeply reflective shaping of all these works – each Bach given his own individual voice – allows the distinct personalities within the choir to bring this music beautifully to life."

Martin Cullingford, Gramophone
Home listening: a whole lot of Bachs…

"Fashions in early music performance come and go, but the Belgian ensemble Vox Luminis, directed by Lionel Meunier, has established itself as a new star of the scene. With its transparent, flexible, indeed luminous sound, it is rather different from English ensembles. Having memorably recorded the devotional motets of the Bach family, they now turn to Cantatas (Ricercar) by Heinrich, Johann Christoph and Johann Michael Bach, alongside JS Bach’s own chorale-based Christ lag in Todesbanden, and the result is another deeply musical triumph."

Nicholas Kenyon, The Guardian
Vox Luminis: Purcell’s King Arthur — Vox Luminis give a fresh take on the imaginative semi-opera

"Their performance of King Arthur, recorded live in Antwerp last January (music only, not the play), is delightfully fresh and subtle in its musicianship. By and large English performers prefer a more rumbustious take on Purcell, but Meunier’s lighter touch is well judged."

Richard Fairman, Financial Times
The best new classical albums: February 2019

"2012’s Recording of the Year winners Lionel Meunier and Vox Luminis bring us highly enjoyable Purcell of, at times elegance and grace, at others a lively spirit, with joyful singing throughout."

Martin Cullingford, Gramophone
Monthly Choice: Vox Luminis shines in Purcell's King Arthur

"This King Arthur is a giddy triumph for its artists. Blazing their way through the score, the performers set a new benchmark, delivering a production that’s equally gutsy and gorgeous. Director Lionel Meunier is the real star, with a soaring vision of Purcell’s music in a class of its own."

BBC Music Magazine
The Critics' Choice 2018: our favourite recordings of the year

"This year I was once again beguiled by Vox Luminis, now bringing their deep and focused expressiveness to motets by Buxtehude, an apogee of all the beauty, dignity and ingenuity of German 17th-century church music. With eloquent string sonatas added by Ensemble Masques, it does Bach’s great predecessor proud."

Lindsay Kemp, Gramophone
Vox Luminis buoys spirits in exemplary song

"One might imagine that a whole concert of funeral music would make for a fairly dull and sobering evening. But not when the performers are the Belgian vocal group, Vox Luminis, and the music is by masters of the Baroque."

Mark Morris, Edmonton Journal
Gramophone Shortlist: "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott"

"Programmatic flair is backed up by performances and a sound recording to match.... This must be a contender for my pick of the year to come."

Fabrice Fitch, Gramophone
Berkeley Festival Closes in Style with Bach & Company

"As a conclusion and culmination to the 2018 Berkeley Festival, nothing could be more appropriate and more appreciated than this concert by Vox Luminis, the world’s finest choral ensemble."

James Roy MacBean, Berkeley Daily Planet
The week in classical: Berlin Philharmonic/Rattle; Arditti Quartet; Vox Luminis

"You could be forgiven for not noticing that this year is the 460th anniversary of the death of John Sheppard, one of the least well known and most adventurous of Tudor composers....  Tune in to Radio 3 in Concert on iPlayer and check out Media vita ('in the midst of life we are in death'), sung as part of Vox Luminis’s almost impeccable Cadogan Hall concert of early English music: some 20 minutes of the most serene, and soaring, Renaissance polyphony in existence. No exaggeration."

Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian
Brighton Festival review: Vox Luminis, Glyndebourne, May 6

"Ten voices, including the artistic director Lionel Meunier, worked seamlessly together, presenting a powerful sound far greater than their small numbers would suggest was possible."

Emily Angus, The Argus
Bach, Handel: Magnificat, Dixit Dominus CD review – gentle inflections, piercing precision

"Vox Luminis, with their distinctive approach to the 17th-century repertory, take their deft consort approach forward into these two brilliant 18th-century works.... the clarity of the ensemble shines through this most concise of masterpieces."

Nicholas Kenyon, The Guardian
Musical levitation with Vox Luminis at the Bach Festival

"The second was vocal. The ensemble of twelve singers, an organist and a violist, led by bass Lionel Meunier, is perfectly balanced.... But the particularity of Vox Luminis is the mastery of sound spatialization."

Christophe Huss, Le Devoir
Vox Luminis and Freiberg Baroque Consort at Norwich Cathedral

"The thrilling and energetic performance was given by the dozen singers of the Vox Luminis ensemble from Belgium and the Freiberg Baroque Consort with its cornets, trombones and a theorbo that added rhythmic impetus. The sumptuous opening was deeply impressive, and the sequence of psalms was a kaleidoscope of voices and instruments in changing patterns. Two sopranos sang of beauty with intimate charm, and cherubim echoed one another with precision that commanded rapt attention. Every one of the countless ornaments and flourishes was crisp, every solo individualised and confident. When forces combined, the effect was overwhelming."

Christopher Smith, Norwich Evening News
Monteverdi Vespers of 1610 @ St John’s Smith Square, London

"With no conductor – other than some subtle indications of tempo from Lionel Meunier, Vox Luminis’ director (and one of its two basses) – the forces on stage provided a shining example of how musical communication and synergy can work at the highest level."

Barry Creasy, musicOMH
The bliss of Baroque lamentation

"The ensemble gave one of the best vocal performances of sacred Baroque music that I have heard in recent years, and their dedication to performing little-known compositions makes their concerts even more exciting."

Alison DeSimone,

"This means that the ensemble sound, like that of the organ, is robust, but open voiced rather than ‘produced’. Not everyone will like it, but (to me) it offers an unrivalled blend and clarity.

"This is great music-making, and the ease with which the sensible tempi changes are managed without any overt conducting as well as the cohesion and coherence of the style that make the texts the focus of the performances sets a new benchmark in the way we are learning to approach Bach Cantatas."

David Stancliffe, Early Music Review
Bach: Actus Tragicus – Cantatas BMV 106, 150, 131, 12 CD review – winning purity

"... Vox Luminis has a winning purity."

Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian
Fux & Kerll: Requiems

"No questioning the evidence here of the outstanding quality of Vox Luminis—nor of the talents of individual singers from the ensemble who tackle the plentiful solo passages which both works throw up.... the sound is immaculate, capturing the sense of space the venues offer but with detail never obscured."

Andrew Green, Early Music Today
Fux & Kerll: Requiems

"... the refinement of Vox Luminis is never anything less than sublime."

David Vickers, Gramophone

"Vox Luminis follow their conductor's unsentimental lead, sparing in their use of vibrato and eternally wedded to immaculate intonation and articulation.... Meunier and his musicians travel far beyond the bounds of studio recording to forge a strong impression of the ritual surrounding a royal burial."

BBC Music Magazine
Vox Luminis excel in Viennese double bill

"The excellent vocal ensemble Vox Luminis goes from strength to strength with its deftly inflected, pure, rather un-English singing."

Nicholas Kenyon, The Guardian

"All Saints’ Church has played host to some remarkable performances over the years but surely none can be so deeply moving as Vox Luminis’ evening ‘Light and Shadow’.... The music was sublime and perfectly filled the lengthening shadows of the church."

Andy Warren, Bexhill-on-Sea Observer (UK)

"Performing songs from the time of Elizabeth I, Belgian choir Vox Luminis put on a melancholy show of evocative, haunting singing and startling technical ability."

Joe Fuller, The Latest (UK)
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