Jacquet of Mantua

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COMPOSERS: Jacquet of Mantua
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Surge Petre; Missa Surge Petre; Ave Maria a 3; O vos omnes; In illo tempore… Non turbetur; O pulcherrima inter mulieres; Domine, non secundum peccata nostra
PERFORMER: Brabant Ensemble/Stephen Rice
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 68088

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One of the countless Franco-Flemish composers who nurtured the landscape of Italian music in the 15th and 16th centuries, Jacquet of Mantua played out over three decades of his career, from 1527 until his death in 1563, at the Gonzaga court in Mantua. As maestro di cappella of the city’s cathedral, his primary output was sacred.

Largely because of the lack of modern editions of his work, Jacquet has not fared well in commercial recordings; yet this disc reveals a composer whose music, at its best, touches the sublime. Specially edited for this performance, the Missa Surge Petre is lusciously scored for six parts, each of them lucidly etched in this beautifully shaped account. In the final Agnus Dei, the voices float in an air of such serene stillness that time seems for a while suspended.

Among the numerous motets included here are O vos omnes – peppered with expressive dissonances, hauntingly sung – a delicate and intimate Ave Maria, and O pulcherrima inter mulieres, a bittersweet setting from the Song of Songs. With its striking opposition of resonant, low voices and soaring sopranos, the concluding work, Domine, non secundum peccata nostra, creates a truly ethereal effect, enhanced by the effortless singing of this matchless vocal ensemble.

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Kate Bolton