Sunday, 12 July 2015

Josquin - Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae - De Labyrintho

Rating: 5/5

A fabulous disc

This is a fabulous disc of Josquin's music. Josquin himself was arguably the greatest of the Renaissance composers (and probably among the greatest of all composers) and De Labyrintho do his music proud here. They are a mixed ensemble with impeccable intonation and technique, and also fabulous poise and balance which brings out the depth of quality and meaning of these lovely works.

I have dearly-loved recordings of all the pieces here but this is at least their equal. The two major works are the great mass setting for Hercules, Duke of Ferrara and Miserere mei, Deus, Josquin's magnificent setting of the 51st Psalm. Both are wonderfully performed. The mass is a joy, with De Labyrintho breathing real spiritual meaning into every line without it ever becoming ponderous, and it is truly beautiful in many places.

Miserere mei, Deus is even better. It is a magnificent piece, and one of the true glories of the Renaissance, in my view. I have a number of recordings of it, including two absolute gems by The Hilliard Ensemble and Cinquecento. This is as good as either, which is really saying something. Pacing the piece somewhere between the two, it has real weight but never drags and the colours and variety are wonderful. De Labyrintho really understand the work's structure and how it relates to the meaning of the text, and it glows from start to finish. I think it is really something special.

Excellently recorded in a perfect acoustic which is resonant but doesn't blur the sound or individual lines, this is an outstanding disc all round. I think it is one of the very finest Josquin recordings available (which is really saying something) and very, very warmly recommended.

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