WORKS: Guerrero: Missa Congratulamini mihi; Dum esset rex; Maria Magdalena et altera Maria; Post dies octo; Regina caeli a 4; Ave Maria; Regina caeli a 8; Crecquillon: Congratulamini mihi
PERFORMER: The Cardinall’s Musick/Andrew Carwood
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67836
The Spanish composer Francisco Guerrero was famous in his day. He published an immense number of works, he travelled to the Holy Land, his music was still being performed in Spanish America at least two centuries after his death in 1599, and his biography was written by Velasquez’s father-in-law. These exquisite works for Easter nicely demonstrate the timeless and attractive accessibility of his music.
Cardinall’s Musick has performed large amounts of sacred music (mostly from England) and encounters little technical difficulty in these well-written pieces – but that may be part of the problem.
True, the singers are at their balanced best in Guerrero’s Ave Maria for double choir, and their confident, perky attack on the rollicking Osanna of the Congratulamini Mass is delightful.
In Dum esset, however, their phrasing is shapeless and the sound somewhat stolid. Moreover, in the motet on the three Marys at the tomb (Maria Magdalena) and on the Doubting Thomas story (Post dies octo) one could barely discern that these works represented a kind of drama with actual dialogue in the text.
The potential nuanced expression in one or two of these Spanish works hardly impinged on the routine, surface glide of these performances. Anthony Pryer