Thursday, 20 August 2015
Palestrina - MIssa Pro defunctis - Chanticleer
This is an excellent recording of Palestrina's setting of the Requiem mass, combined with some motets taken from the Song of Songs - a slightly odd-seeming combination as the Song of Songs is a sequence of love poems, some of them distinctly erotic. Nevertheless, this works very well as a programme and is among my favourite recordings of Palestrina.
Palestrina's music is a model of polyphonic composition, which I find sometimes means that technique can drive out feeling in some of his works, but that is not true here. These are lovely, heartfelt compositions (some maintain that Palestrina wrote the Requiem for his own funeral) which are full of emotion. The Requiem laments without being turgid and the Song of Songs selections have genuine erotic power. They are done full justice by Chanticleer, who sing beautifully. They generate a lovely, rich sound, are technically excellent and engage with the text in a way which really brings these works to life. It's a fine performance: when Chanticleer get it right they can produce something very special, and they do that here, I think.
I warmly recommend this disc - it's one of the best of the Palestrina recordings I know.
(By the way, I would also strongly recommend Philippe Herreweghe's wonderful recording of Missa Viri Galilae.)