I don't want to seem ungrateful for what is by and large a very fine disc, but shouldn't there be a law against this sort of thing? I'm referring to the occasional but unfortunate practice of recording a Renaissance parody mass without including the model work on which it is based - which in this case should have been Nicolas Gombert's beautiful motet "Ego sum qui sum". In general record companies, including Hyperion, are very good about this and we have had numerous CDs of parody masses - by composers such as Josquin, De La Rue, Clemens non Papa, Janequin, Lassus, Morales, Victoria and Palestrina among many others - which have included the source works for our great benefit and enlightenment. It is entirely sensible to do this because familiarity with the original work - more often than not a motet or a chanson that would probably have been well known to contemporary listeners - can add greatly to our understanding and enjoyment of the music.
In the present case the missing motet by Gombert, a poignant and affecting Easter motet, is also one of that composer's loveliest pieces. Since it is hard to believe that the idea of including it here didn't occur to anyone, somebody at Hyperion must have made the decision and yet to me it is incomprehensible. Having said all that, Philippe Rogier was one of the truly outstanding composers of the late renaissance and his "Missa Ego sum qui sum" is a glorious work in the great Franco-Flemish polyphonic tradition. It receives a fine performance here from the Choir of King's College London, directed by David Trendell; so also do the Rogier motets on the disc, two of them with instrumental accompaniment by the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble. The choir itself is fairly large compared to most of today's early music groups, and their numbers result in a slightly thicker texture than some would consider ideal for this music. But they are stylish, pure in tone, cohesive and accurate, they respond to the words of the mass and motets with enthusiasm and commitment and a nice variety of pace, and altogether they sound quite at home in the renaissance idiom.
In the performance of Rogier's Mass, however, they face formidable competition from a glorious CD of the same work by the ensemble Magnificat directed by Philip Cave - a disc so beautiful that it would be hard to imagine it ever being surpassed in its field. Not only do Magnificat sing most wonderfully, but they also give us Gombert's motet at no extra cost! Also, as luck would have it, this motet is also available on another truly lovely recording from Nordic Voices, "Reges terrae - Music from the Time of Charles V".
As for Philippe Rogier, music lovers who wish to investigate his music further can find another of his Masses on the Ricercar label directed by Jean Tubéry, as well as a few instrumental pieces beautifully performed by Paul McCreesh's Gabrieli Players in their superb reconstruction programmes based on Lerma and Seville. Meanwhile the London King's College Choir's present disc, in spite of the above complaint and the daunting competition, nevertheless offers a fine programme of Rogier's music including several of his motets that are otherwise unavailable, and so altogether this is an attractive and worthwhile contribution to the catalogue for lovers of renaissance music.