Morales, Ceballos, Guerrero, Ribera, Torrentes, Cabez—n

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COMPOSERS: Cabezón,Ceballos,Guerrero,Morales,Ribera,Torrentes
LABELS: Glossa
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Assumption Mass
WORKS: Morales: Missa Benedicta est regina caelorum, ; works by Ceballos, Guerrero, Ribera, Torrentes & Cabezón
PERFORMER: Soloists; Orchestra of the Renaissance/Richard Cheetham, Michael Noone
The Orchestra of the Renaissance continues its deeply satisfying exploration of the Spanish repertoire with this reconstruction of the Mass for the Assumption as it might have been celebrated, using the Tridentine Liturgy formulated and encouraged by Pope Pius V from 1570, at Toledo Cathedral around 1580. The Orchestra of the Renaissance’s guest conductor Michael Noone’s scholarly note informs us that Toledo’s library houses a vast number of contemporaneous choirbooks which contain an international repertoire, testifying to the richness of the music-making at what was, after all, a hugely important ecclesiastical centre. But they also include a wealth of pieces by home-grown talents. Works by such composers – Andrés de Torrentes (‘Asperges me’), Francisco Guerrero (a rich ‘Ave Maria’ setting and a lovely ‘Dulcissima Maria’), Bernardino de Ribera (‘Beata Mater’), Rodrigo de Ceballos (‘O pretiosum et admirabile sacramentum’), Antonio Cabezón (‘Beata viscera Mariae Virginis’ and a keyboard ‘Tiento’) and the great Cristobal de Morales, whose Mass Benedicta est regina caelorum, based on a motet by Mouton, is at the heart of the ceremony – make up this recording. All of this music has an extraordinary devout beauty and intensity. True to previous form, Noone makes sensibly proportionate use – conjectural decisions are required in the absence of evidence – of the ministriles, or instrumental musicians, that we know to have been employed in Toledo. The wind band effectively complements, enhances and contrasts with the refined, expressive, pristine singing of the all-male choir of eight, and there is just enough plainchant to lend atmosphere and heighten contrasts further without over-dominating matters. A delicious indulgence, particularly given Nicholas Parker’s fine recording. Stephen Pettitt