An excellent Renaissance compilation
Mike Birman | Brooklyn, New York USA | 10/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This compilation of sacred music of the Renaissance, part of Harmonia Mundi's Century series of 20 CDs detailing the history of music (my gratitude is extended to Giordano Bruno, to whom I am indebted for introducing this series to me), overcomes the hubris inherent in that task with excellent performances and splendid packaging. Artistic, archival exteriors notwithstanding, the performances are generally of a superior nature. This is volume 8 of the series, covering the musically crucial century between 1500-1600, the High Renaissance. This music can quite literally be descibed as sublime. Contained herein are excerpts from Masses and Motets of the era, as well as Songs and Psalms of the Reformation. Composers celebrated are Josquin and the Missa Pange Lingua, Pierre de la Rue and his Messe L'Homme arme, Janequin and the Messe La Bataille, Palestrina and his Missa Viri Galilaei, Byrd's Mass for 4 Voices and Monteverdi's Messa a quattrovoci da cappella. Motets feature some of these composers as well as Tallis, Lassus and Gesualdo. The Chansons and Psaumes feature L'Estrocart, Goudimel, Sermisy as well as some of the aforementioned. A masterful collection of some of the Renaissance's finest composers.
Performers include Ensemble Clement Janequin directed by the brilliant Dominique Visse, Ensemble Organum under the occasionally enigmatic Marcel Peres, La Chapelle Royale directed by Philipe Herreweghe and Theatre of Voices under Paul Hillier. It is a splendid line-up and their performances are some of the best for the label. As with all compilations, better performances of individual pieces can often be found. But this series is intelligently designed and constructed and this disc one of the best in the series. A strong overview of the Sacred music of the Renaissance. Strongly recommended.