Ludford: Missa benedicta et venerabilis

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Ludford
LABELS: ASV
WORKS: Missa benedicta et venerabilis
PERFORMER: The Cardinall’s Musick/Andrew Carwood
CATALOGUE NO: ASV CD GAU 132 DDD
As has become the fashion with Renaissance Mass recordings, The Cardinall’s Musick intersperse Ludford’s polyphony with chant, to put it ‘in context’. On the whole, this is a success. Ludford’s music is highly elaborate, with soaring treble lines, thrilling tuttis, and long, serpentine sections for solo voices – a wonderful analogy to the elaborate architecture of the day. The relative simplicity of the chant provides a good foil; but it is so evenly sung, so simple and calm, that the contrast seems almost too great. Without all the colour and movement that were such an essential part of the contemporary liturgy, the chant seems a little lame in comparison with the polyphony.

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The Cardinall’s Musick are quite typical of the growing number of Renaissance choirs formed by Oxbridge singers. Phrasing and rhythm are carefully placed, never overdone, always tasteful. They have an impressive control over intonation and ensemble, and a number of solo voices are highly accomplished.

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Aside, then, from my slight reservations about the chant, I would recommend this disc of highly enjoyable singing, and of a repertoire that will doubtless not remain neglected for too much longer, thanks to the efforts of Andrew Carwood and David Skinner (who prepared the editions used on this disc). Edward Kershaw