COMPOSERS: Jachet Of Mantua,Monte
WORKS: Missa Aspice Domine; Factum est silentium; Miserere mei, Domine; Pie Jesu, virtus mea
PERFORMER: Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Oxford/Stephen Darlington
CATALOGUE NO: MET CD 1037
Philippe de Monte (1521-1603) was one of those composers who was never in one place long enough to be firmly associated in our minds with a particular court or culture. Nonetheless, he produced some brilliantly detailed music for Philip II of Spain, Emperor Maximilian II and others. Curiously, this is the second recording of works by Monte to be produced by an Oxford choir (the first was by New College, reviewed in January 1999), but there is no overlap of repertoire between the two discs.
Here, the Christ Church choir of 32 members (boys and men) gives us both pluses and minuses. The pluses include a sense of grandeur and weightiness, particularly at the astonishing ending of the motet ‘Clamavi de tribulatione mea’. There is also, for a group of this size, a lively sense of pace and rhythm. Less happy, though, in this repertoire, are the rather assertively individual timbres of some of the voices, and the occasional tendency to sink and slide into difficult chord changes, especially in ‘Miserere mei’. Even so, they still provide a good advertisement for the composer, and make one yearn for a little more of the ‘Full Monte’. Anthony Pryer