That pretzel vendor’s not shouting — he’s singing

No one would confuse the auditory barrage of a busy big-city street with, say, the ethereal strains of a madrigal choir. But if you’ve ever gazed wistfully from your office window, wishing that the ceaseless car alarm and pounding jackhammer and crazed sirens would turn into something more calming and melodic, this may be the classical-music CD for you.

The Cries of London performs a remarkable act of alchemy on a bustling 17th-century English thoroughfare, transforming the city’s bygone peddlers’ shouts into soothing, strangely beautiful baroque music. While Fretwork, a string ensemble, plays the music of period composers, the vocalists from Theatre of Voices sing out the sales pitches of the day (“Chimneysweep!” “Fine white salt!”), creating a sonic combination that’s as pleasurable as it is improbable.

Even if you’re agnostic on the subject of classical music, The Cries of London could be a welcome escape from a chaotic, disharmonious day. And you’ll never again hear a phrase like “I can kill vermin!” the same way.

“>HEAR music from The Cries of London (Windows Media Player required)

“>BUY The Cries of London

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That pretzel vendor’s not shouting — he’s singing