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Customer Review

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Palestrina beautiful masses, 20 Nov. 2011
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This review is from: Palestrina: Masses (Audio CD)
These are wonderful recordings of Palestrina's music performed by the all-male voices of Pro Cantione Antiqua. This set of 5CDs is a re-issue by Brilliant Classics of the original box collectionMasses

There have been some outstanding recordings of Palestrina masses in recent years, but this one stands alone in my collection as being the only version sung by all male voices, Pro Cantione Antiqua.

Pro Cantione Antiqua was co-founded in 1968 by the tenor James Griffett, countertenor Paul Esswood and conductor Mark Brown. From its beginnings the ensemble always intended to be, and has in fact remained, a collection of soloists all of whom enjoy successful careers as professional singers - individual members have featured as guest soloists with various choirs such as Kings College Cambridge, The Sixteen, The Orchestra of The Golden Age and many others. (Incidentally, of the three founder members only two - Griffett and Brown - appear on this recording).

Specialising in Renaissance polyphony and Medieval music, they have more recently developed an interest in contemporary music and have commissioned works from composers such as Sir Lennox Berkeley, Ian Parrott, Colin Mawby, and Ivan Moody. They have toured extensively throughout Europe, the Far East and South America and have won several recording awards since their formation.

The successful experiences of the soloists lends an identity and individuality to each part which I think enhances the overall end result - `Polyphony' (`many sounds') is after all described as music consisting of two or more independent melodies and this is well demonstrated in these recordings.

The distinctive sound of Pro Cantione Antiqua is further enhanced by the use (in this recording at least) of only three voice ranges - countertenor, tenor and baritone, whereas the male and female choir will typically include the higher female soprano, mezzo soprano and alto voices. It is worth noting that the early Mass will have often been performed by an all-male choir and so this interpretation does have a feel of authenticity about it.

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was probably the most influential of the Renaissance composers, and the 5CDs in this set can only touch the surface of the 100 plus masses he penned during his lifetime. Included of course is Missa Papae Marcelli, so striking is this version that it alone, in my opinion, makes the set worth buying.

The enclosed booklet details the full libretti, but unfortunately lacks recording dates and venue which is an essential detail missed. Otherwise though this is a great collection.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 8 May 2014 08:36:30 BDT
lemur5 says:
Actually a number of the Naxos recordings use male voices only. With all respect your review reads more like a "puff" for the Pro Cantione Antiqua (fine as they are) than a review of the recording itself.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2014 20:19:28 BDT
Mart says:
Thanks for reading and commenting on my review

Posted on 3 Feb 2016 21:24:34 GMT
Last edited by the author on 3 Feb 2016 21:24:49 GMT
Pro Cantione Antiqua surely deserve all the "puffs" one can think of.
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Mart
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