Lassus, Giovanni Gabrieli

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COMPOSERS: Giovanni Gabrieli,Lassus
LABELS: Archiv
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Easter Mass in Venice
WORKS: Lassus: Missa Congratulamini mihi Giovanni Gabrieli: Canzonas & motets Works by Andrea Gabrieli, Merulo & Bendinelli
PERFORMER: Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh
CATALOGUE NO: 453 427-2
With A Venetian Coronation, Venetian Vespers and Music for San Rocco already to their credit, the Gabrieli Consort and Players could be thought to have exhausted the Venetian theme. Yet such is the quality of the research, production and performance that each recording sounds completely fresh. Here, they recreate a procession and high Mass for Easter morning as it might have been celebrated in St Mark’s around 1600. The setting of the Mass Ordinary is Lassus’s Missa Congratulamini mihi, based on his own Easter motet; and this is interspersed with vocal and instrumental works by Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli and their contemporaries. The Mass is performed with characteristic virility and conviction – the high male voices sounding less strained than on Music for San Rocco – and McCreesh captures all the theatricality of a Venetian Easter.

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After his early years in Italy, Lassus settled at the Court of Munich, and it is repertoire from his years there that the Choir of New College, Oxford, has recorded for Collins. The main work is Lassus’s Mass Tous les regretz, a glorious piece of musical architecture based on Gombert’s darkly coloured motet of the same name. While Lassus’s Munich choir was famous for its basses, New College deserves equal credit for its trebles, although at times the texture lacks sufficient support from the lower voices. Higginbottom’s long-breathed phrases and lugubrious tempi reflect the underlying melancholia of much of this music, with the bright treble sound paradoxically lending the despondency a sharper edge. Kate Bolton