Owen Rees

Contrapunctus is an early-music vocal ensemble directed by Owen Rees and dedicated to passionate interpretations informed by authoritative insight and understanding.


Virgin & Child: Music from the Baldwin Partbooks II

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The choral sound is distinctive. Astringent countertenors pierce though sweet rounded sopranos, and the whole is anchored by a wonderful breadth in the basses...Contrapunctus remain king in a very crowded market place.
— Alexandra Coughlan, Gramophone, May 2017
The first track here is one of the most astonishing, sustained 18 minutes of polyphony you will ever hear: Contrapunctus realise the Gothic spans and arching phrases of Tallis’s lavish Gaude gloriosa Dei mater with wonderful clarity and poise...the superb singing fulfils every expectation.
— Nicholas Kenyon, The Observer, 12 February 2017
...refined, elegantly shaped phrases, first-rate solo ensemble singing and rich choral sound. Tempi are excellently judged in lush acoustics and there’s detail aplenty, recorded with sublime perspective…
— Rebecca Tavener, Choir & Organ, March/April 2018


In the Midst of Life: Music from the Baldwin Partbooks I

Shortlisted for the Gramophone Early Music Award 2015
Gramophone Editor's Choice
BBC Radio 3 CD Review Album of the Week
Sunday Times Album of the Week
The Week CD of the Week

Contrapunctus are special. Their first disc, ‘Libera nos: The Cry of the Oppressed’ (Signum, 11/13), was seriously, startlingly good: the intimacy of The Cardinall’s Musick, the rich, glowing tone of The Sixteen and the textual drama of Stile Antico. Their second disc proves that this was no one-off...Choral blend is mossy-soft and balance immaculate...setting the bar in this repertoire.
— Alexandra Coghlan, Gramophone, Editor's Choice, May 2015
...this superlative album...Rees’s choir brings an intensity of sound and dramatic dynamics, in music that contemplates the pain of death in ecstatic elation and sublime devotion.
— Hugh Canning, Chief Classical Music Critic, The Sunday Times - Sunday Times Album of the Week, 22 February 2015
The singing throughout is consistently full-toned and focused, but essentially for this repertoire constantly ready with expressive crescendos and decrescendos to mark textual changes in mood…Contrapunctus is the ideal group for this superb repertoire.
***** Performance
***** Recording
— Early Music Review, February 2015
Whether you listen in Lenten penitence or in general hope of spiritual balm, the message is universal, the singing superb. ****
— Fiona Maddocks, The Observer, March 2015

Praise for our debut disc 'Libera nos: The Cry of the Oppressed'

Shortlisted for the Gramophone Early Music Award 2014

Transient experience of aching but delicious intensification of expression, a sense of deep personal convictions and emotions. These are stunningly beautiful works...The singers shape each piece lovingly. Impeccable.
— Stephen Pettitt, The Sunday Times, August 2013
Owen Rees has devised a profound musical meditation...Experience and vocal excellence merge in the singing of Contrapunctus to produce performances extraordinary even by the British vocal group’s own high standards...immaculate intonation, refined tonal blend and near-perfect ensemble...
— Andrew Stewart, Sinfini Music, August 2013 ****
...this exemplary disc... Anguished masterpieces are juxtaposed with discoveries, including a convincing new vocal version of Tallis’s (hitherto instrumental) Libera nos. Pristine performances by Owen Rees’s Contrapunctus choir...
— Richard Morrison, The Times, August 2013 ****
…high quality stuff, let me tell you…excellent all the way round.
— Connoisseur's Choice, David Mellor, The New Releases Show, Classic FM, August 2013
This debut recording by the clean-voiced and agile Contrapunctus ensemble includes a genuine discovery...a ‘new’ work by Thomas Tallis...The choir sings it and works by Byrd, Philippe de Monte, Pedro de Cristo and Martin Peerson with admirable, firm-toned fluidity. More, please.
— Stephen Pritchard, The Observer, August 2013
Owen Rees’s vocal ensemble Contrapunctus here presents a programme of Renaissance polyphony ingeniously employing lamentations for the subjugation of Jerusalem as code expressions of the plight of both English Catholics under Protestant rule, and Portuguese oppressed by Spanish hegemony. It’s a rich seam of material by such as Tallis, Byrd and Cardoso.
— Andy Gill, The Independent, July 2013 ****
Their notable for the clarity and smoothness and line, with a lovely clear bright top, and a fabulous high soprano part in the Tallis. The motets are superbly shaped with a sense of an endless line and forward linear motion. The results are very beautiful...The ensemble do not disappoint and their performance is technically superb, with some profoundly beautiful and expressive textures...anyone would be delighted to have these technically poised performances on their library shelf.
— Robert Hugill, July 2013

In concert

Owen Rees conjured alert and shapely performances from his young voices...energised and vibrant
— Telegraph, July 2010
Owen Rees directed his young 10-strong choir with musical sensitivity and they produced an extremely attractive blend of clean and unaffected voices.
— Early Music Review, August 2010

Background image by Fr Lawrence Lew O.P.
© Contrapunctus 2018