COMPOSERS: Bairstow,Byrd,Finzi,Grier,Josquin,La Rue,Ross,Victoria,Villette
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Pange Lingua
WORKS: Music for Corpus Christi by Bairstow, Byrd, Villette, Victoria, La Rue, Ross, Grier, Finzi and Josquin
PERFORMER: Choir of Clare College, Cambridge/Graham Ross
CATALOGUE NO: HMM 907688
The Clare College performance of Josquin’s Missa Pange lingua which opens this recital has the kind of subtlety that can only be achieved by exceptionally responsive singers, immersed in the idiom of the music they are performing. The Kyrie sets the tone: phrases supply moulded for expressive purposes, vibrato occasionally lending an incipient sensuality, and small dynamic alterations sharpening attention to the text, particularly on the Kyrie’s return.
Good things continue to happen in the Gloria. Extended passages of interleaving part-writing are delivered with expert breath control, and unstrained, precise tuning. In the antiphonal exchanges at ‘Laudamus te’, conductor Graham Ross, by deftly tweaking balances, conjures a happy carillon of warm-voiced harmonies.
Of the nine other works on this CD, Victoria’s Lauda Sion salvatorem and La Rue’s O salutaris hostia are particular highlights – the one an object lesson in how to fine-hone articulation without sounding mannered, the other a memorably tender interpretation. These pieces, like the Josquin Mass, were recorded in the beautiful acoustic of the Lady Chapel at Ely Cathedral. Finzi’s Lo, the full, final Sacrifice, recorded at Norwich Cathedral, seems blowsier by comparison, though the performance is again stirringly committed. Overall this disc bears eloquent testimony to the high standards of singing in the Clare College choir.