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Palestrina – Masses CD1 (2001)

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Palestrina – Masses CD1 (2001)

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1. Introitus: Ecce advenit dominator Dominus			play
2. Kyrie
3. Gloria
4. Graduale: Omnes de Saba venient
5. Credo
6. Offertorium: Reges Tharsis
7. Sanctus & Benedictus
8. Communio: Vidimus stellam
9. Agnus Dei

10. Introitus: Gaudeamus omnes in Domino
11. Kyrie
12. Gloria
13. Graduale: Propter veritatem							play
14. Credo
15. Offertorium: Assumpta est Maria
16. Sanctus & Benedictus
17. Communio: Optimum partem
18. Agnus Dei

Counter tenors: Charles Brett, Timothy Penrose, Ashley Stafford
Tenors: Wynford Evans, James Griffett, Ian Partridge
Basses: Michael George, Gordon Jones, Christopher Keyte, Stephen Roberts
Mark Brown, conductor


Recordings by the pioneering Pro Cantione Antiqua are increasingly becoming collector's items for the cognoscenti. These performances of Palestrina Masses form a superb set of reference recordings of this seminal composer of the Seconda Prattica - if I may use Monteverdi's term. They have a place in the library of anyone with a serious interest in 16th century Renaissance music.

As an early music all male choir the Pro Cantione Antiqua very often remain unsurpassed in the excellence of their interpretation of Renaissance polyphony. At times they even put the Tallis Scholars quite in the shade. The Missa Papae Marcello here is perhaps as good a performance I have yet to hear, and is definitely my reference recording. The blend and balance of voices and above all their phrasing seem perfectly suited to the exquisite refinement characteristic of the 'Palestrina style'.

The works found on this 5 CD set are:


Missa Assumpta Est Maria
Missa Papae Marcelli
Miss Aeterna Christa Munera
Missa L'homme Armé (4 vocum)
Missa Brevis
Missa 'Lauda Sion'
Super Flumina Babylonis
Sicut Cervus
Lamentations of Jeremiah, Book IV


In due course I imagine that some of their recordings will emerge from the original record labels that made them, but that may take years. In the meantime small independent releases such as this of archive recordings are highly welcome. Regis seems to be another label issuing old Pro Cantione Antiqua recordings, so even if this issue from Brilliant becomes unavailable there is an alternative.

The sound quality here is also excellent and as acquiring the set doubled up on the recording of the Missa Papae Marcello, I can say that these transfers represent a substantial improvement on an old 1987 issue I have owned for many years. The soundstaging is wider, and the focus much cleaner, with successful removal of the gritty glassiness of many late first generation 1980's digital issues. Recording dates have unfortunately been omitted but I believe all of these recordings were recorded in the late 1980's and indeed all them are fully digital. I do know for certain that the Missa Papae Marcello here was recorded between January 31 to Feburary 1st, 1987 at St Alban's Church, London.

The only drawback on these issues is that liner notes are absent - except for the sung text of works - so you might want to find a good book on Palestrina's music to help fill in details to the background behind the compositions. I find really decent liner notes are a rarity in any case and so getting more in depth discussion elsewhere is always preferable.

All in all this is a remarkable bargain that anyone in-the-know about these recordings will snap up. If the Pro Cantione Antiqua are new to you and you have an interest in Palestrina then you are in for a quite a treat. ---Sator, amazon.com

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Last Updated (Saturday, 08 March 2014 14:26)


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