Friday, 16 December 2016

Josquin - Musica Symbolica - De Labyrintho/Testolin

Rating: 5/5

A real find

I took a bit of a risk with this disc, but I'm very glad that I did. I was looking for a recording of the Missa Gaudeamus and I don't really get on with A Sei Voci's performances which left this as the only alternative I could find. Luckily, it's terrific.

The music here is, of course, outstandingly brilliant and exceptionally lovely (it is by Josquin, after all). There is the fabulous mass setting Missa Gaudeamus and five of Josquin's finest motets. It's a lovely and rewarding programme.

De Labyrintho were a new ensemble to me, and I can't understand why they are not better known. They are a small group of Italian singers, and they are excellent. Intonation, blend and balance are all impeccable, and they have a lovely fluency and feel for the text. Sopranos take top lines so pitch is high and the resultant sound is crystal clear and very beautiful (and captured in an excellent recording). Their sound reminded me a little of the Brabant Ensemble, and the quality of the performance matches the Brabant, too, which is very high praise.

I have to say that I'm not keen on the rather pretentious title of this disc, nor on the notes which are rather overblown and speculative, although there are full texts and translations. Dodgy notes or not, the music's the thing and this is a real find for me - I'm delighted with it and recommend it very highly.

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