WORKS: Mass: Dum sacrum mysterium
PERFORMER: The Sixteen/Harry Christophers
CATALOGUE NO: 14782
The Sixteen’s passionate rendering of Carver’s sumptuous polyphony convincingly supports the assertion that the composer’s ten-part Mass Dum sacrum mysterium may have been performed at the coronation of James V on 21 September 1513. Their marvellously clear internal detail generates a stirring, hypnotic musical surface in the passages for full choir, and the beautifully focused recording highlights the intimacy of the sections for smaller vocal groupings to reveal Carver’s perfect marriage of music and text.
Sample the Credo, where the Sixteen’s portrayal of divine light at the words ‘Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine’ (signalled by a striking reduction of forces and lively triple metre) is compelling. Their potent eloquence at the words ‘et iterum’ expresses the belief in Christ’s promised return with uplifting confidence. The Sixteen’s mellifluous presentation of Carver’s opulent melismatic writing is breathtaking throughout. However, I found their sensational shaping of the interwoven melodic lines in the Agnus Dei a particularly joy.
Robust exuberance in the anonymous Magnificat from the Carver choir book – with its alternation of plainsong and polyphony and narrower emotional range – provides an effective stylistic contrast. Finally, the Sixteen’s magnificent performance of the 19-part motet O bone Jesu leaves no doubt about Carver’s star quality. Nicholas Rast