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Medieval Motets



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Choral treasures of the 16th century are slowly yielding to the work of scholars, and, perhaps more importantly, are steadily added to the repertoires of specialist choral groups around the world.

Cantores has evolved from Exeter University's chamber choir, and the present 16 singers now have a London base under the watchful eye and musical direction of David Allinson. So encouraging for the art is the steady increase of small choirs devoted to high ideals and prepared to adopt only repertoire of musical worth, ancient or modern.

Stabat Mater - Late Medieval Motets of Penitence and Passion. Copyright (c) 1999 ASV Ltd.We have on this CD medieval motets for Penitence and in rememberance of the Passion. Eighty minutes' worth of mostly sombre and intense settings are ideally to be sampled in small groups. My way faithfully follows that precept: to do otherwise I would find enormously taxing to the attention span.

That said, listening to and absorbing the full measure of these intricate structures makes for a subtle response to both music and the overall atmosphere. It can further induce an experience beyond the music's power. To take an unknown composer, William Pashe, in his setting Sancta Maria Mater Dei, is communicated a beauty based on a technique beyond my expectation of an unknown composer of that time, not banished to a community in Outer Mongolia but living and working in London. [Click to listen.]

Josquin Des Prez' affecting setting of the Stabat Mater has a place in this programme as well as the Orlando De Lasso setting for two choirs. Last in the programme is Gombert's David's lament for Absolam, a distinctive motet in its musical manner and setting. [Click to listen.]


Copyright © Basil Ramsey, November 17th 1999 


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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Wednesday series of shorter CD reviews