This is a re-release of a recording originally made in 1986. Philippe Herreweghe and his various ensembles, including La Chapelle Royale, were real pioneers of Renaissance performance and did a great deal to foster my now deep and enduring love of Renaissance polyphony, so I have a great affection for recordings like this – although I never owned the original of this one, which is a recent acquisition. I think it stands up very well, getting on for 30 years after it was made.
The music itself is sublime; seven of Josquin's finest motets, including the monumental setting of Miserere mei, Deus. All of these have been recorded in very fine versions since and whether you want to have this disc as well is a matter of personal taste. Herreweghe's sound is very resonant and this is emphasised in the recording, so the music is sometimes rather blurred as a result. Occasionally, I find this obscures rather more of the internal structure of the music than I would like, but the overall effect is very beautiful. The singing is technically excellent with minimal vibrato, excellent intonation and a real sense of engagement with the text, and Herreweghe has a deep understanding of this repertoire. All this means that I can forgive a little obscurity of sound every so often.
You could do a lot worse than this for all these pieces. I now have newer recordings which I prefer but I still like this a lot. The notes and packaging are pretty feeble, but the music remains well worth a try in my view and I would recommend this disc as an interesting and sometimes very moving take on some of Josquin's greatest music.
(Other recordings which I love of some of these pieces, including Miserere mei, Deus and which I would recommend very warmly are by
The Hilliard Ensemble: Josquin - Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae / Motets
Cinquecento: Richafort: Requiem (Hyperion: CDA67959)
And De Labyrintho: Josquin: Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae, Miserere, Motets )