Music for Milan Cathedral
Sacred works by Werrecore, Josquin, Gaffurius & Weerbeke
Siglo de Oro/Patrick Allies
Delphian DCD 34224 66:28 mins
With their latest recording, Patrick Allies and his vocal ensemble Siglo de Oro lift the veil that has shrouded the Flemish composer Hermann Matthias Werrecore – maestro di cappella of Milan Cathedral from the 1520s for nearly three decades. Werrecore has been overshadowed by his celebrated predecessor in Milan, Josquin Desprez – but unjustly so, judging from the quality of the music on this disc. Six of Werrecore’s motets are recorded here for the first time, several of them quoting and echoing Josquin by way of homage. Outstanding among them are Popule meus, a stark and monumental work for Good Friday, Proh dolor, with its acidulous harmonies and dissonances, and the radiant Ave maris stella – a feast of spiralling lines and deft canonic writing.
The 13 youthful voices of Siglo de Oro produce a fresh, ingenuous sound. Their timbre is open and expressive – the use of vibrato adding a tremulous urgency to some of the more emotive passages. The young singers respond sensitively to the musical and liturgical range of this programme: exultant in Werrecore’s setting of Psalm 127, Beati omnes (probably intended for a wedding); plangent in his funerary motet Proh dolor, rapt in Gaffurius’s O sacrum convivium. Textures vary, too, from the luscious full ensemble to fragile solo voices (their sound tender, if a shade tentative at times). Director Patrick Allies shapes the architecture of the large-scale musical edifices with admirable control. Both the ensemble and the recording are well-balanced, and the acoustic has an aptly sacred bloom.