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Lamentatio (Rombach, Ensemble Officium)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Billed as music for Easter round about 1500 - that's not quite true (see below) - this contains three very different types of compositions from three different composers.

First up is a setting of Jeremiah's Lamentations, performed at the Tenebrae services of the early hours of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday & Holy Saturday (but later moving to the afternoon of the day before), by Bernhard Ycart, a shadowy figure about whom very little is known, who lived in the second half of the 15th century and whose surviving works can be counted on the fingers of a leper's foot. These Lamentations only escaped oblivion because the famed Ottaviano Petrucci included them in in one of his printed editions of settings of the Lamentations by various composers.

Second is an excerpt from what is one of the towering achievements in Renaissance Music, the Choralis Constantinus, an undertaking by Heinrich Isaac to provide polyphonic mass Propers (the pieces which vary from day to day) for an entire year. He never completed it, the project being left to his pupil Ludwig Senfl to finish off, only for the Council of Trent to prohibit the use of polyphonic Propers. The pieces here (Introitus, Reponsorium Graduale, Alleluia, Sequence, Offertorium & Communio) are in fact for the feast of Sancta Cruce of September 14th, although the texts do originate from plainchant pieces used in the liturgy on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

Thirdly, we have one of the masterpieces of the Renaissance, Josquin Desprez's motet Miserere Mei Deus, a setting of Psalm 50 which has had a liturgical place in the first and last of the three Tenebrae services, though I'm not sure that Josquin's arrangement has a particular association with Easter performance.

It's a decent disc all round. Ensemble Officium sing with multiple voices per part - Miserere is 2vpp (as STTTBx2) and the other pieces appear to be 2vpp also but possibly 3 in places (though it's difficult to know without seeing the arrangement) - but manage to keep a reasonable integrity although the sound is a little 'cavernous'. Miserere has been done better than this by a number of vocal outfits (despite the 15 minute running time it feels a little rushed and faster than that here even against recordings with a similar time frame), but the other content makes this a disc worthy of investigation.

The booklet contains some notes on the programme and full Latin sung texts with translations (English, French, German).
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