I first sang this mass well over ten years ago, in an edition which the conductor (who, very sadly, never lived to perform the work) had done himself, and it immediately struck me as one of the finest mass settings I'd ever encountered. It seemed at the time to be everything one could wish of a Renaissance mass setting: expressive, lyrical, harmonically interesting and an absolute delight to sing. Since then I've searched around for recordings, yet the work seemed to have passed everyone by, until this morning, when I was looking for something else entirely, and stumbled on this new release from the Cardinall's Musick.
As well as the mass (which in itself is justification enough for the price of the disc), there are some lovely motets on offer here, some well-known, others a little less-so. In keeping with the Eastertide theme of the motet on which the mass is based, there is the lovely 'Maria Magdalena' and 'Post dies octo.' The last three slots on the disc are given over to Marian motets, and the 8-part 'Regina Caeli' is a fitting conclusion to the programme.
The performance is typical of the Cardinall's Musick: small forces, with many items performed with only a solo voice on each part, but the singing is exemplary throughout. It's worth noting that Stephen Rice's excellent Brabant Ensemble recorded Crequillon's own mass setting on the 'Congratulamini Mihi' on a fabulous disc about four years ago, and the two make a fascinating comparison in differing performance practices and approaches.
This has, as so many of my reviews, gone on long enough. This is a very, very good CD.