Reges Terrae

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Clemens ‘non Papa’,Guerrero & Gombert,Manchicourt,Morales
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Music from the time of Charles V by Manchicourt, Morales, Clemens ‘non Papa’, Guerrero & Gombert
PERFORMER: Nordic Voices
CATALOGUE NO: CHSA 5050 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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Nordic Voices’ mixed six-voice configuration (two sopranos, one each of mezzo, tenor, baritone and bass) is beautifully suited to the music in this programme, and their clear, radiant performances, full of character, are vividly captured by the DSD recording on this hybrid disc.

The ensemble sound is intimate and close yet individual voices exhibit an airiness and spaciousness. This is music from the time, rather than the court, of Charles V, since the links with the Holy Roman Emperor are fairly speculative and tenuous in some cases.

Yet, Charles seems to have been a real music lover, rather than gathering distinguished composers for reasons of prestige, and the influence of the Imperial music circle seems to have been fruitful. Only Gombert is known to have worked directly for Charles, although other composers represented here had connections with members of the Habsburg dynasty.

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Whoever the patrons were, the music is sumptuously textured and elegantly phrased in these gorgeous realisations. Sometimes the tempo is faster than we are accustomed to, or may find comfortable for this repertoire, (Manchicourt’s O Virgo Virginum seems in danger of coming unstitched at one point) but this fairly minor quibble is really just a matter of taste. Barry Witherden