Monday, 21 January 2019

Josquin - Missa Pange lingua etc - Kammerchor Josquin des Prez/Boehme

Rating: 4/5

Good but not the best

This is a good performance of this magnificent music, but not the best available. The recording by The Tallis Scholars and by Ensemble Clément Janequin are both quite stunning and this isn’t really in their league. Nonetheless there is a good selection of Josquin’s music, the choir engage well with it and their overall sound is very attractive.

If you’re just looking for a performance of the Missa Pange lingua then for my money Ensemble Clément Janequin is the one to go for, but this makes a welcome addition to my Josquin collection and I can recommend it.

Monday, 7 January 2019

de la Rue - Visions of Joy - Cappella Pratensis

Rating: 5/5

An excellent recording

This is yet another excellent recording from Cappella Pratensis. I already have much-loved recordings by both Amarcord and The Hilliard Ensemble of de la Rue’s Missa Cum iocunditate which forms the centrepiece of this disc, but I’m very glad to have this one, too.

De la Rue’s music is wonderful. He is from the so-called Forgotten Generation which followed Josquin but has been rescued from forgetfulness by a number of very fine recordings over recent years and it’s easy to see why. There is rich, expressive, skilful and very beautiful polyphony here which I find extremely moving – especially when this well sung.

Cappella Pratensis are excellent throughout. They sing from single copies of a manuscripts from Brabant’s Brotherhood of Our Illustrious Lady, of which Bosch was a member – hence the title of the disc. They are, as always, technically impeccable with a lovely fluency of line and real engagement with the text. They have quite a robust, muscular sound which I like very much and the whole thing is a pleasure to listen to.

If I had to choose one recording of the Missa Cum iocunditate it would still be Amarcord, but that’s just personal taste. This is a top-quality performance by a very fine ensemble and I can recommend it very warmly.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

de la Rue - MIssa Conceptio tua - Schola Antiqua of Chicago

Rating: 4/5

A lovely mass

I like de la Rue’s music very much and the Missa Conceptio tua is a fine work, I think. It is written at very low pitch and the basses of Schola Antiqua of Chicago in particular make a fine, thrilling sound over which the other polyphonic parts weave their magic. I love the effect, and it is worth buying the disc for this mass alone, I think.

The rest of the disc doesn’t do very much for me. It opens with a sequence of seven plainchant antiphons sung by a duet of sopranos which, frankly, all gets a bit much as a chunk and might have been better distributed among the polyphony. The closing pieces are English mediaeval carols which to my ears don’t sit well with the rest of the programme.

So, a slightly mixed disc overall, but the terrific mass setting, very well sung makes it eminently recommendable.