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The Golden Renaissance

Stile Antico (Decca)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

The Golden Renaissance
Jacquet of Mantua: Motet; Josquin: Missa Pangue Lingua; Motets; Vinders: Lament
Stile Antico
Decca 485 1340   80:18 mins

Josquin des Prez (d1521) stood between two historical periods – medieval and renaissance – and completely dominated his age. Also several works survive commemorating his death, and two (by Vinders and Jacquet of Mantua) are included on the disc.

Stile Antico has much experience in this early repertoire and their performances are accomplished. They nicely shape the Salve Regina motet by the subtle use of dynamics, and the textures of Ave Maria emerge with great clarity, aided by the transparent text setting (each phrase has its own point of imitation) and by the finely balanced recording. Just occasionally, the performers might have more strongly highlighted (by matched articulation and phrasing) related voices, as in the two en-framing canonic parts of Virgo salutiferi.

The work at the centre of this recording is the great Pange Lingua Mass, a kind of fantasy on a plainsong for the feast of Corpus Christi. The sound is energised and kept bright by the upward transposition employed, though there are moments (in the Credo for example) where the performance becomes a bit featureless, and the speed slightly erratic. That said, this is a splendid introduction to one of our earliest identifiable musical geniuses.

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Anthony Pryer