ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Music from Renaissance Portugal II
WORKS: Missa Cantate Domine; Hei mihi domine; Asperges me
PERFORMER: Cambridge Taverner Choir/Owen Rees; Stephen Farr (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: HAVPCD 277
The first disc in this series of Portuguese Renaissance music was issued eight years ago and this sequel has been eagerly awaited. These new pieces will not disappoint, and yet again the magnificent composer Duarte Lobo (d1646) dominates the CD, this time with his Missa Cantate Domine. Other high points include his fragmentary Salve regina for 11 voices, specially reconstructed for this recording, and the wonderfully intricate organ piece by Francisco Correa de Araux which begins the disc, played with sustained insight by Stephen Farr.
The Cambridge Taverner Choir has great strengths and some weaknesses. Its 22 singers produce a full, warm, quietly cohesive sound in works such as Hei mihi Domine by Pedro de Cristo, and their wide dynamic range is used to great expressive effect – as in Lobo’s Asperges me, though in his Sanctus the top voices tend to be one or two shades more assertive than the steadier, lower parts. There is great rhythmic energy here, too, especially in the ‘Christe’ section of the Kyrie, though some slightly out-of-focus tuning and the unwieldy numbers produce some smudgy polyphony in Gamboa’s Estote fortes. Even so, Owen Rees and his choir are strong advocates for this excellent, but little-known music. Anthony Pryer