LABELS: ASV Gaudeamus
WORKS: Western Wind, Euge bone Mass; Peterhouse Mass
PERFORMER: Ely Cathedral Choir/Paul Trepte
CATALOGUE NO: CD GAU 190
Since Christopher Tye (c1505-72) is the best-known among Ely Cathedral’s choir masters, it is only fitting that this choir should be the first to issue a complete collection of his masses. Moreover, on the evidence of this release, the present director,Paul Trepte possesses a deep sympathy for the music of his eminent predecessor. There are several excellent versions of the Western Wind and Euge bone Masses, but Trepte and his choir – who also offer the premiere recording of the newly reconstructed Peterhouse Mass – bring added passion and commitment to these pieces.
The Tallis Scholars performs the Western Wind Mass with customarily polished ensemble and exquisite intonation, its lean forces emphasising the native beauty of the secular song on which this mass is based with pure-voiced melodiousness. The larger Ely choir, by contrast, produces a fuller effect, emphasised by the Cathedral’s more reverberant acoustic and (consequently) uniformly slower speeds. Nevertheless, Trepte manages to bring out the textual details with impressive clarity.
Likewise, in comparison with the Oxford Camerata’s finely judged account of the Euge bone Mass, the Ely choir’s more spacious sound creates a reflective magnificence that is spiritually uplifting. And, although the boy trebles are not always as assured on the highest notes as their rivals, the attentive devotion in their singing is hard to resist.
Finally, Trepte and his choristers respond warmly to the pithy sectional design of the Peterhouse Mass (for lower voices), neatly underlining its liturgical highlights to reveal a welcome new addition to the repertoire. Nicholas Rast