WORKS: Missa Maria Zart
PERFORMER: Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips
CATALOGUE NO: CDGIM 032 DDD
Obrecht’s Missa Maria Zart is a vast work. At over 65 minutes, it lasts twice as long as other Mass settings by contemporaries such as Palestrina and Josquin. Moreover, its unusual sound-world poses immense technical problems, which are magnificently negotiated here by the Tallis Scholars. Not only do the Scholars present the score’s richly contrapuntal musical fabric with astonishing clarity and precision, but they also, even more miraculously, succeed in unfolding the work’s monumental structure as a single span. The Scholars establish a bold, stridently vigorous polyphonic sound in the Kyrie, controlled beautifully at its core by the long notes of the cantus firmus; while in the Gloria, they present different vocal groupings with breathtaking virtuosity and concentration, revealing Obrecht’s dazzling, kaleidoscopic treatment of the melody. Sample, in particular, the majestically built, emotionally stirring climax at ‘Qui tollis peccata mundi’. Other highlights include the Credo’s exultant outburst, celebrating Christ’s resurrection, and the deliciously mesmeric imitation at the opening of the Sanctus. Ultimately, though, the Agnus Dei provides both a movingly reverential invocation and a satisfying resolution to what has gone before. So, then, the Tallis Scholars, in exemplary recorded sound, have here again set new standards for others to follow.