“During this visit, these young ladies were so obliging as to sing me a Salve regina, lately set by their father, in duo. It is an exquisite composition, full of grace, taste and propriety.” What more could one ask of an antiphon than that which Charles Burney found in an impromptu performance by Hasse’s daughters during a visit to their father in Vienna in 1772? Hasse composed several settings of the Salve regina of which Reinhard Goebel has chosen two for his interesting programme of vocal and instrumental pieces by the composer.
This recording from The Choir of Westminster Cathedral also features two of its admired former organists and the English Chamber Orchestra Brass Ensemble, all illuminating joyful paeans of praise by the profoundly religious organist and composer Jean Langlais.
…The orchestra, led by violinist Michi Gaigg, is a delight to hear, a finely tuned and ideally balanced ensemble whose playing gives real drive and support to the singers–and, in these world premiere recordings, makes a strong case for hearing a lot more from J.C. The sound is exemplary.
Who would ever have thought that Benedictine plainsong would ever cross over into the mainstream? Well, in some ways it is hardly surprising that it did. Anyone who has ever wandered around some of the great monasteries of Europe will have listened in awe to the chant of the monks at various prayer times. Simplistic beauty is the only way to describe it. The sound of male voices echoing through the cavernous halls of a Gothic monmastery church brings with it a quality which it would be impossible and unwise to recreate in the studio. This tuly is music which, if taken out of the architectural context for which it ewas intended, ceases to have the effect that was intended.
This superb disc of music by one of Spain's most talented early 16th century composers is exactly the sort of boost that the less well-known repertoire needs in its search for a place in today's CD collection. It is in every way a model of what a recording of Renaissance polyphony ought to be… The all male vocal ensemble sings with enormous conviction as well as firm control of rhythm and phrasing. Combining the voices with energetically played sackbuts produces a rich and dark-hued sound that feels authentically Spanish, and does full justice to this very fine music.
Certainly the somber beauty of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater for soprano, alto, and strings has a lot to do with its popularity. But it must be said that the story of the 26-year-old composer completing the work on his deathbed has always been too romantic for the public–or the music business–to resist. "The instant his death was known," wrote the famous 18th-century traveler Dr. Burney, "all Italy manifested an eager desire to hear and possess his productions." And so it's been ever since. In spite of the competition already on the market, it seems Decca just had to get its prize lyric soprano and hotshot young countertenor together to record the piece. –Matthew Westphal