Morales: Missa Mille regretz

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Morales
LABELS: Archiv
WORKS: Missa Mille regretz
PERFORMER: Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh
CATALOGUE NO: 449 143-2
This splendid new recording of Morales’s Missa Mille regretz intriguingly emulates how the piece might have been heard in Toledo Cathedral, when the composer was organist there in the late 1540s. By incorporating instrumental pieces and plainsong settings of the other liturgical elements, McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort and Players produce a truly magnificent account – centred around the feast of St Isidore of Seville – that vividly portrays a ‘living’ celebration of the Mass. The excellently played instrumental pieces and atmospherically reverberant plainsong sections provide an effective contrast to the Mass setting itself, while the choir luxuriates in Morales’s glorious polyphonic writing, highlighting the felicitous marriage of music and text.

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The entrance music – with instrumental pieces by Guerrero, Rogier and Cabezón – builds impressively to the plainsong introit ‘In medio ecclesiae’, culminating in the Kyrie. As Gospel motet, Guerrero’s singularly apposite O Doctor optime, in which choir and instruments combine, forms a brilliant focus at the centre of the performance. Finally, after a glorious feeling of spiritual elation in the exit music that follows the Agnus Dei, Morales’s Emendemus in melius – ‘Let us amend for better in those things in which we have sinned through ignorance’ – makes a touchingly appropriate apologia. Nicholas Rast