Recorded in 1976 by the Swedish label Proprius, Cantate Domino is quite clearly a Christmas album. But for nearly four decades, audiophiles have been happy to employ it as a reference yearlong. This exceptional recording variously features chorus, soprano soloist, organ, and brass ensemble. Timbral balance is even from organ fundamentals up to the Oscar Motet Choir’s high female voices, Marianne Mellnäs’ buttery but focused soprano is realistically scaled, and—most impressively—musical sounds connect seamlessly to the reverberant acoustic of the Stockholm church where the program was recorded with one Revox A77 and a pair of Pearl TC4 microphones. Included are hymns, carols, and a couple of lullabies; the title track, a setting of a psalm text for chorus, organ, trumpets, and trombones by Enrico Bossi, starts the program off magnificently. Two selections for organ alone are stylishly played by Alf Linder, including Johann Gottfried Walther’s Concerto in A Major. A pair of a cappella “religious folksongs” is shaped gorgeously by Mellnäs. The only misstep is “White Christmas,” a cheesy choral arrangement with roller rink organ accompaniment. Tell your computer or media server to skip that one.
René Laflamme of 2xHD remastered Cantate Domino and provides four high-resolution options: 192/24 PCM as wav files, DXD (352 kHz, also as wav files), DSD, and DSD 2x. All do justice to the analog original (which has already been well-served on SACD and by an 88/24 HDtracks download), but the finest is the DSD 2x version, which improves the most upon a slight tendency for the coarsening of choral textures heard with the 192/24 format.