Monday, 24 October 2016

Striggio - Mass in 40 Parts - I Fagiolini/Hollingworth

Rating: 5/5

A terrific disc

I think this is a terrific disc. A great deal of scholarship has gone into finding and editing the colossal mass by Striggio which is at its heart, the recording itself must have been a huge undertaking and the result fully justifies the work that has gone into it. The works on this disc are musically very fine and the performances are excellent, making the whole thing fascinating, beautiful and hugely enjoyable.

Robert Hollingworth has chosen to perform the works on this disc with some parts taken by voices and some by a range of contemporary instruments such as sackbuts, shawms and viols. He makes a convincing and interesting case for this in the excellent notes and the effect is remarkable, often creating a thrilling Renaissance Wall of Sound but also beautifully delicate and intimate in places. Striggio structures his mass very cleverly to allow these effects to offset each other and I thought the whole thing - both the large- and small-scale works - was fantastic. This use of instruments also sheds a fascinating new light on Tallis's wonderful Spem in alium and I found this version of it riveting.

Hollingworth has assembled a wonderful group of singers to augment the excellent I Fagiolini, many of whom are regular members of such outstanding ensembles as The Tallis Scholars, The Sixteen, Stile Antico and others. The instrumentalists are just as good, including members of Fretwork and other world-class period ensembles. They give an outstanding performance together; technically flawless and with a wonderful empathy for the music, they are powerful and delicate, passionate and tender as required and really bring this wonderful music to life.

The recorded sound is excellent, the presentation attractive and the notes very interesting. You also get a DVD which includes three surround-sound tracks and a video on the making of the CD. It's an excellent set all round and very warmly recommended.

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