This program, a "celebration" of the 300th anniversary of the death of 17th century German composer Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644 - 1704), contains two Biber works and a number of smaller pieces from contemporaries such as Schmeltzer and di Lasso. "In the midst of life, we are in death" is the basis for this program, intended to illustrate the early modern pre-occupation with life and death in the wake of the Thirty Years War.
The listener is invitation to compare and contrast Biber's Mass in B and Requiem in F minor. The Mass, we are advised, was likely written for a smaller village church, while the Requiem appears to have been designed for performance in Salzburg Cathedral.
Of the two, the Requiem is a much more compelling and involving work. The harmonies, varied and rich, along with the instrumentation, I simply found to be of much higher order and complexity.
More people should set aside an hour to hear this timeless and ageless 17th century music - written long before the harried, stressful pace of our 21st century "McWorld" - and allow themselves the luxury of a trip backwards in time to a world lit only by fire. I also wouldn't hesitate to buy this disc if you are looking for great examples of early modern German liturgical music performed by perhaps the best "historically informed" ensemble currently in the business. Overall, the disc must be considered another "win" for musical historian Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort. Recorded at the Tonbridge School Chapel in Kent and making use of an organ modeled after a 17th century Italian chamber organ from Lucca, sound quality is very good, with vocal clarity and a realistic bass result.