Friday, 7 August 2015

de Rore - Missa Doulce memoire etc. - The Brabant Ensemble

Rating: 4/5

Not the best de Rore recording

I have been a great admirer of The Brabant Ensemble for years now and some of their recordings, notably of Phinot and Moulu are among my very favourites. Although I like this disc, I don't think it is really in the same league as their best.

The music itself is good but perhaps not as rewarding as some of the finest polyphony of the period. Nonetheless, it is well worth hearing and a really great performance could give it real depth and beauty; I don't think the Brabants quite manage that here. As other reviewers have noted, the balance of voices is very top-heavy which robs the music of a good deal of its texture, and this is exacerbated by the recording. It is echoey and distant so the rich, intimate sound of the choir is much diminished and they sound rather disembodied and detached. Also - and this may just be my ears - the normally impeccable intonation of the Brabants sounds slightly off in a couple of places to me. All of these things combine to mar the disc rather and they do diminish my enjoyment.

I don't want to be too harsh - there are moments of real clarity and beauty here, and I applaud the Steven Rice's continuing efforts to bring to light some of the more obscure but beautiful Renaissance repertoire. However, for me this isn't one of the Brabant Ensemble's best discs by any means and I can only give it a rather qualified recommendation.

(For a great recording of de Rore I would suggest The Tallis Scholars' fabulous disc of motets and the mass Praeter rerum seriem or their fine compilation Flemish Masters which includes the mass.)

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