Rore: Missa Doulce mémoire

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Rore
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Rore: Missa Doulce mémoire
WORKS: Missa Doulce mémoire; Missa a note negre; Motets
PERFORMER: Brabant Ensemble/Stephen Rice
CATALOGUE NO: CDA67913

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Cipriano de Rore (c1516-65) was a Netherlands composer who worked most of his life in Italy. He is best known now for his madrigals, but these have never seemed quite enough to account for his outstanding reputation in his day. This disc, with its splendid selection of sacred works, suggests we may have been looking in the wrong direction.

The Brabant Ensemble is very experienced in this type of repertory, and achieves some magical effects in the Doulce mémoire Mass, especially with the aid of the atmospheric chords in the Sanctus and the ethereal intertwining of the vocal lines in the Benedictus. In the Note negre Mass things are not quite so satisfactory. The sopranos slightly tend to dominate and the lower voices are not quite crisp enough for the more madrigalian textures. Of the motets O altitudo divitiarum is a truly outstanding and moving work. Some decades ago there was a good recording of it by Bruno Turner (Archiv), but it lacked the delicacy and sensitivity to phrasing displayed here.

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Anthony Pryer