Guerrero; Janequin

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Guerrero; Janequin
LABELS: Coro
WORKS: Missa de la batalla escoutez; Hymn: Vexilla Regis; Pange lingua; Tota pulchra es, Maria; Lauda mater ecclesia; Song of Songs – Ego flos campi (Guerrero); La Guerre (Janequin)
PERFORMER: The Sixteen/Harry Christophers
CATALOGUE NO: COR 16067

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Nearly 200 works survive by the 16th-century Spanish composer Guerrero, but very little has been recorded. This is a pity since his sense of architecture and purposeful harmonic intensity is everywhere, as The Sixteen magically reveal even in the apparently ‘functional’ motets Ego flos campi and Pange lingua.

The centrepiece of the CD, though, is his Mass based on a famous chanson by Janequin depicting the Battle of Marignano in 1515. Guerrero selects the deceptively simple opening music as his material for a dazzling display of expansion and development. Harry Christophers gives magnificently sure-footed direction throughout.

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The only rival recording is by James O’Donnell and the Choir of Westminster Cathedral (Hyperion, 1999). In some ways that recording is more ‘authentic’ in its use of a wind band, but it rushes in places and the large choir is unwieldy. Anthony Pryer