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Josquin: Missa Hercules Dux Ferrarie, etc

The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips (Gimell)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Missa Hercules Dux Ferrarie; Missa D’ung aultre amer; Missa Faysant regretz
The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips
Gimell CDGIM051   71:14 mins

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With this almost valedictory recording, The Tallis Scholars complete their monumental nine-disc project to record all of Josquin’s Mass settings, and their journey concludes with three aptly monumental works: the Missa Hercules Dux Ferrarie, into which Josquin ‘chisels’ the name of his patron (Ercole, Duke of Ferrara), and two masses based on French chansons – D’ung aultre amerand Faysant regretz.

Phillips’s reading of the Ferrarese work is fluid and supple, and there’s a gentle momentum even in the more contemplative sections, such as the hushed Sanctus or the sublime Agnus Dei. The Scholars’ sound is lean and clear: every strand of the musical web is beautifully illuminated, and the text is carved with a sculptural sharpness, allowing the Hercules Dux Ferrarie motif (based on the vowels of Ercole’s Latinised name) to stand in high relief. Even in the fuller passages, the effect is never mushy – thanks, also, to Gimell’s limpid recording in the silvery acoustic of Merton College Chapel, Oxford.

The text is to the forefront, too, in the Scholars’ account of Josquin’s Missa D’ung aultre amer – a liquid and melancholy setting inspired by Ockeghem’s hauntingly wistful song. Its prayerful Credo is so articulately uttered here that the words seem more spoken than sung, while the Benedictus motet ‘Tu solus qui facis mirabilia’ is voiced with prayerful solemnity. The disc’s final work, the Missa Faysant regretz, is based on a four-note motif that Josquin repeats and reworks to obsessional effect, making a mesmerising final chapter to this unforgettable musical odyssey.

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Kate Bolton-Porciatti