Striggio: Missa Ecce Si Beato Giorno

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COMPOSERS: Galilei,Striggio,Tallis
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: striggio Missa Ecce Si Beato Giorno; Ecce beatam lucem; Fuggi, spene mia; O giovenil ardire; Altr’io che queste spighe; D’ogni gratia et d’amor; O de la bella Etruria; Caro dolce ben mio; Misero ohimè ; Galilei: Contrapunto Secondi di BM; Tallis: Spem in alium; plus Sarum plainchant Spem in alium
PERFORMER: I Fagiolini/Robert Hollingworth
CATALOGUE NO: 69:19 mins plus DVD

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Alessandro Striggio wrote his astonishing 40-part Mass on Ecce Si Beato Giorno in the 1560s in Florence. Recently a copy was discovered by Davitt Moroney, who performed the work at the 2007 Proms with the BBC Singers and Tallis Scholars.
 
I Fagiolini have seized the initiative here, recording the Mass alongside its supposed motet model (the 40-part Ecce beatam lucem), along with another work apparently inspired by that motet – Tallis’s 40-part Spem in alium (Striggio visited England in 1567). The Striggio motet has been recorded before (by Van Nevel on Harmonia Mundi), but not with instruments. I Fagiolini also present world premiere recordings of seven of Striggio’s madrigals.
 

The instruments transfigure much of this music. They do the heavy lifting for some of the choir parts in the Mass and Ecce beatam lucem, contribute to the spacious sonorities, and add delicate moments of colour. In the madrigals the effect is less happy, especially in Fuggi spene mia where a nimble soprano valiantly competes with what seems to be a stodgy arrangement of a lute intabulation.

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Without instruments, the I Fagiolini voices can be tender and nuanced, as in Caro dolce, though tuning problems are then a danger. The accompanying DVD contains three excellent surround-sound tracks, some murkily shot but informative pieces-to-camera by Hollingworth and Adian Hunter (recording producer), and all-to-brief glimpses of the performances. Anthony Pryer