WORKS: Works by Ockeghem, Morales, Clemens, Lassus, Victoria, Byrd
PERFORMER: Oxford Camerata/Jeremy Summerly
CATALOGUE NO: 8.550843 DDD
The music in this anthology of so-called Renaissance masterpieces provides a fascinating demonstration of the accomplished craftsmanship of a group of composers (spanning the period 1420-1656) from England, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Portugal. Moreover, Summerly’s carefully chosen programme, which shows how musical textures and formal design were directly influenced by the text, produces a rewarding concert. In Ockeghem’s Intemerata Dei mater, as in Palestrina’s Si ignoras te, the Oxford Camerata unfold contrapuntal lines with beautiful clarity, while finely blended ensemble characterises the gently overlapping phrases of Josquin des Près’s Nunc Dimittis and, most impressively, the distinctive timbral quality of individual voices in Clemens’s Ego flos campi.
Two works, Lassus’s Lauda mater ecclesia and Morales’s Magnificat, demonstrate the effective contrast of plainsong and polyphony. The highlight of the disc comes at the end of the programme where Byrd’s Laudibus in sanctis, in which the Oxford Camerata perform the score’s lively opposition of triple and duple rhythms with brilliance and sparkle, provides a powerful contrast to King John IV of Portugal’s beautifully tranquil and expressive Crux fidelis. Assisted by the resonant ambience of Hertford College Chapel, the Oxford Camerata’s splendid sound provides a compelling stimulus for further investigation of this repertoire. Nicholas Rast