WORKS: Missa Regina caeli; Motets; Missa pro defunctis; Motets
PERFORMER: The Sixteen/Harry Christophers
CATALOGUE NO: 14072 DDD
Manuel Cardoso and Duarte Lôbo are two of the most important representatives of the golden age of Portuguese music during the first half of the 17th century. Both composers studied in Evora under Manuel Mendes, and their modernism and contrapuntal diversity produce unusually expressive text settings.
Of the two, Lôbo’s style is the more conservative, and the Sixteen’s spaciously recorded, warm, rich sound ideally suits the imposing serenity of the motets Audivi vocem de caelo and Pater peccavi. In the Missa pro defunctis, full scoring of the plainsong statements and sparkling melodic clarity create a more optimistically uplifting effect than does the Schola Cantorum of Oxford (Naxos 8.550682) whose somewhat bright, top-heavy balance also sounds less realistic.
Cardoso’s Eastertide setting, Missa Regina caeli, provides a cheerful coupling, in which the Sixteen marvellously reaffirm the marriage of music to the spiritual message evident in this repertoire. The formal logic of the Kyrie and the rich harmonic results of Cardoso’s complex counterpoint in the Gloria and Credo are breathtaking in the clear textual enunciation and fluid textures of this fine ensemble. The Sixteen’s poignant, yearning dissonances in Cardoso’s motets Sitivit anima mea and Non mortui qui sunt in inferno emphasise this disc’s desirability. Nicholas Rast