Allegri, Anero, Marenzio and Palestrina

COMPOSERS: Allegri,Anero,Marenzio and Palestrina
ALBUM TITLE: Music from the Sistine Chapel
WORKS: Works by Allegri, Anero, Marenzio and Palestrina
PERFORMER: Works by Allegri, Anero, Marenzio and Palestrina
The Sistine Chapel has long been celebrated for its exquisite wall frescoes and Michelangelo’s ceiling but the Chapel choir also inspired some iconic pieces of Renaissance polyphony, including Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli and Allegri’s Miserere. Yet countless manuscripts by more arcane Papal composers have, for centuries, been gathering dust or falling into decay in the Vatican archives. Thankfully, this recording gives new life to several such rarities: Allegri’s richly beautiful Mass ‘Che fa oggi il mio sole’, some obscure but nonetheless glorious motets by Palestrina, and a series of radiant Marian antiphons by Palestrina’s successor as Papal composer, Felice Anerio. Director Harry Christophers draws controlled performances which highlight the music’s extremes of spiritual serenity and visceral energy. As one might expect from this crack choir, there is some seraphic singing and standards of intonation and ensemble are impeccable. The resonant recording suggests the lofty heights of the Cappella Sistina but the perspective is close enough to ensure the all-important words cut through. It’s a treat to hear such long-neglected treasures, many of them recorded here for the first time. Kate Bolton