Lobo: Missa Simile est regnum caelorum; Lamentationes Ieremiae prophetae; Missa O rex gloriae; Ego flos campi

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COMPOSERS: Lobo
LABELS: Gaudeamus
WORKS: Missa Simile est regnum caelorum; Lamentationes Ieremiae prophetae; Missa O rex gloriae; Ego flos campi
PERFORMER: Choir of King’s College, London/David Trendell
CATALOGUE NO: CD GAU 311
The Spanish Renaissance composer Alonso Lobo’s music has lately regained the wide currency it enjoyed during (and indeed well after) his own time. The booklet notes tell of the ruggedness of the Iberian art in comparison with the purity of the Palestrina ideal. And at first, in the opening of the Missa Simile est regnum caelorum – a parody on a motet by Lobo’s mentor Guerrero – it seems that under the direction of David Trendell the Choir of King’s College, London, is responding rather too readily to that idea with its vigorous but rhythmically rigorous singing. But the open-throated, bright sound of these 25 undergraduates is soon put to its best use, so that by the time they reach the lovely Agnus Dei the flavour of their reading has opened out into something deeply emotional, as they relish the richness of Lobo’s textures and melismatic writing. It’s a good preparation for the astonishing setting – astonishingly performed, I might add, by a choir as passionate as it is disciplined – of the six-voice Lamentations that comes between this Mass and the equally fine Missa O rex gloriae (based on a motet by Palestrina). The only source for the Lamentations appears to date from a century and a half after Lobo’s death, which would be grounds for suspicion were it not for the fact that the music does what Lobo’s other music does, only more so. The disc also helpfully includes three Lobo motets recovered from surviving instrumental versions, the finest of which is Ego flos campi, a piece that reveals an unexpected side to the composer’s poetic nature. Stephen Pettitt

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