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La Quinta Essentia: Three Renaissance Masses

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Audio CD, 25 Nov 2013
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Product details

  • Conductor: Paul Van Nevel
  • Composer: Palestrina, Lassus, Ashewell
  • Audio CD (25 Nov. 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: hmGold
  • ASIN: B00D8AIUQ0
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 242,686 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Kyrie
  2. Gloria
  3. Credo
  4. Sanctus
  5. Agnus Dei
  6. Gloria
  7. Credo
  8. Sanctus
  9. Agnus Dei
  10. Kyrie
  11. Gloria
  12. Sanctus
  13. Agnus Dei

Product description

Product Description

'This disc, recorded at the 19th-century Museum of Water in Lisbon, compares and contrasts three essential Renaissance musical styles. There s Lassus s magnificent parody of Gombert s chanson, the Missa Tous les regretz, a virtuoso work exploring contrasts of texture, pace, idea, mood. There s Palestrina s Missa Ut re mi fa sol la, music of affectingly sophisticated purity, based on a simple upward scale. And, between, there s Thomas Ashewell s Missa Ave Maria a glorious instance of exuberant late-gothic flowering in which the plainchant underpins otherwise free-flowing fantasy. Van Nevel relishes the different sensualities of each work, and the singing of the Huelgas Ensemble is beautifully blended and sonorous.' Stephen Pettitt, Sunday Times, 13 January 2008 Gramophone Editor s Choice, March 2008 'The real discovery here, and the work that earns this disc the highest recommendation, is Thomas Ashewell' Fabrice Fitch, Editor s Choice, Gramophone 'a performance of breathtaking technical mastery and originality' Berta Joncus, BBC Music Magazine, January 2008 'The concept is simple: three Renaissance Masses in three styles Roman, Franco-Flemish and English. But the pleasure is deep and rare, thanks to the superlative art of Paul Van Nevel s Huelgas Ensemble. We start with the earthy counterpoint of Lassus; then comes the Thomas Ashewell, a master of the decorative. Finally, Palestrina lifts us to paradise with music of grave purity. A ravishing collection.' Geoff Brown, The Times, 18 January 2008

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The title of this album "Quinta Essentia" comes from the vocabulary of alchemy and refers to the "Fifth Element" which besides the four elements of fire, water, earth, and air is the element that is necessary to explain the diversity and multiplicity of life, the finest or best of any substance. The quintessence is an element that permeates all nature and is the constituent matter of the celestial bodies. In this album it most likely refers to the underlying sublimity through diversity of the styles depicted.
This is a superb recording of " three major styles of Renaissance music", represented by Roman, Franco-Flemish, and English Late Gothic masses: Palestrina (Roman), Lassus (Franco-Flemish), and Thomas Ashewell "late English Gothic". Ashewell is an unknown English composer who has only 2 extant works. Byrd would have been the logical English Renaissance musicial choice in any other conductor's choices. So thanks to the conductor Van Nevel and this recording we are introduced to a beautiful unknown mass by Ashewell.
The style of Palestrina is "other-worldly" sublime, fragile, and transcendental - a result of symmetrical Classical counterpoint, tranquil and transparent linear part writing (voice leading). It is "other worldly", also because it makes no concessions to worldly elements in a pure "a cappella" style without the influence of any instrumental accompaniment. Its clarity is even filled with reminiscences of Gregorian Chant. The sound world of Palestrina is thus at first overwhelming for our modern ears because of this extreme purity of sound and technical craft, and in its striving to reach some unearthly paradise of musical thought.
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