1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A hidden gem,
This review is from: Philips: Motets & Madrigals (Audio CD)
I tried this CD without much expectation, and was extremely pleasantly surprised. I haven't been all that taken with other discs of Philips's music I have tried, and I often don't get on too well with vocal polyphony mixed with instruments, but I found this a breath of fresh air and a real delight in places.
Philips was a younger contemporary of Byrd who was the best known of English composers on the European continent in his lifetime and was very widely published but is relatively unknown today. It is good to see his music being made available again - it is enjoyable and moving in places, although is not in the same class as that of some of the great English polyphonists, in my view. It lacks the fabulous melodic and harmonic invention which made Byrd's music so striking and dramatic, nor does it quite achieve the serene, limpid loveliness evident in some of Tallis, for example.
Nevertheless, Capella Mediterranea (a new ensemble to me) bring it to life wonderfully. From the thrilling drumbeat and marshal winds which open the disc in Non piu guerra to some lovely, spiritual polyphony in motets like Ave verum corpus, there is a fine variety and some extremely enjoyable and in places genuinely affecting music. In the motets especially one can hear the wounded yearning of a Catholic exiled from his home in Elizabethan England. For me, neither Trinity College Choir Philips: Cantiones Sacrae 1612 (Cantiones Sacrae 1612) nor The Sarum Consort Philips: Cantiones Sacrae Quinis Et Oct (NAXOS 8572832) find anything like this level of beauty, emotion and spirituality in Philips's music and as an introduction to Philips you couldn't do better than this, I think.
The recorded sound is excellent. The presentation and notes are somewhat ...well...quirky and unconventional, but the music's the thing and it is very good indeed. I warmly recommend this disc: I think it's a bit of a hidden gem.