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This survey of late Renaissance polyphony is particularly representative of the Venetian polychoral style developed in the Basilica of San Marco in the latter half of the sixteenth century but employed by composers all over Europe.
An important characteristic of this is the cori spezzati or divided choirs, where various groups of singers and instrumentalists were so placed as to answer one another or pass phrases and lines not only from part to part but from group to group, a dramatic spatial development.
One of the finest and most prolific composers of the period, Orlando di Lassus, was born at Mons, Hainaut in 1532. Following a series of prestigious posts in Italy and Antwerp, in 1556 he entered the service of Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria in Munich. The initial appointment was as a tenor in the chapel choir but he was soon promoted to maestro di capella, a post he retained for over thirty years until his death, being succeeded in turn by his two sons.
Here he produced an enormous quantity of church music, including many motets, four passions and some sixty mass settings. Many of these are parody masses, based on secular material such as chansons or madrigals or on motets written by himself or others, frequently including florid and intricate counterpoint handled with great skill.
In contrast, the masses founded on plainsong are more typically concise, syllabic and straightforward and although not characteristic of the composer at his most sublime, they possess a coolly austere beauty. The four-voice Missa Venatorum or Jäger Mass of 1577 is founded on the eighth plainsong tone.
Although by no means cursory, it is certainly the shortest of the composers Masses and was intended for a nominal service on days that the court went hunting. The succinct Gloria is largely homophonic and is over almost before it begins; the Sanctus promises more but is quickly reined in; the flowing imitation of the Benedictus is reduced to two parts only.Alexander Ffinch, the College Organist, founded the Cheltenham College Chamber Choir in 2007.
Established with the clear purpose of performing demanding unaccompanied music, the Chamber Choir has rapidly gained a reputation as an excellent choir, with a distinctive repertoire. Having performed at Winchester Cathedral, and various Oxbridge Colleges, this CD, the Choirs first release, comes on the back of a very successful tour to New York.
Since its foundation, the choir has rehearsed and sung a variety of choral pieces, ranging from the 16th Century up to the modern works of John Tavener and Arvo Pärt. Whilst enjoying the range of pieces, the choir has felt an especial affinity with the music of the Renaissance. This is dynamic and powerful, reflecting the enormous creative energy across Europe that was present at the time.
|1||01:18||Missa Venatorum – Kyrie||Orlando di Lassus (1532-1594)|
|2||02:59||Missa Venatorum – Gloria||Orlando di Lassus|
|3||04:50||Missa Venatorum – Sanctus and amp Benedictu||Orlando di Lassus|
|4||03:22||Missa Venatorum – Agnus Dei||Orlando di Lassus|
|5||03:51||O sacrum convivium||Thomas Tallis (c1505-1585)|
|6||06:58||Magnificat quinti toni||Hieronymus Praetorius(1560-1629)|
|7||05:52||Reges Tharsis et insulae||John Sheppard (c1515-1558)|
|8||08:23||Magnificat primi toni||Christobal de Morales (c1500-1553)|
|9||03:50||Ecce vicit Leo||Peter Philips (c1560-1628)|
|10||08:11||Magnificat septimi toni||Orlando di Lassus|
|11||03:42||Nunc dimittis à 5||Thomas Tallis|
|12||04:25||Loquebantur variis linguis||Thomas Tallis|