Lud­ford

BBC Music Magazine - - Choral & Song Reviews -

Missa Videte mirac­u­lum; Ave Maria, an­cilla Trini­tatis Choir of West­min­ster Abbey/ James O’don­nell Hype­r­ion CDA 68192 62:40 mins The Tu­dor com­poser Ni­cholas Lud­ford (d1557) spent most of his life at­tached to St Stephen’s West­min­ster. A box set of his ma­jor works was is­sued by The Car­di­nall’s Mu­sick en­sem­ble on Asv/gaudea­mus in the early 1990s, which in­cluded two of the works here – the Videte Mass, and Ave Maria an­cilla Trini­tas. The Car­di­nall’s group is smaller (13 voices, some of them fe­male) than the West­min­ster Choir (30 voices, men and boys). This means that, by com­par­i­son, the cur­rent record­ing has a more ‘mon­u­men­tal’ sound, and also (given its more res­o­nant acous­tic) the tex­ture is less translu­cent.

That said, James O’don­nell and the West­min­ster singers re­ally un­der­stand this mu­sic and make a fine case for Lud­ford be­ing a true (if ne­glected) mas­ter of polyphony. The disc kicks off with some serene, mea­sured singing in the Kyrie in­ter­spersed with stun­ning or­gan in­ter­ludes (cre­ated by O’don­nell) be­tween the sec­tions. The Al­leluia

hardly puts a foot wrong in terms of the or­ganic growth of the mu­sic, and the same is true of Hac clara

– though they could per­haps have let their guard down a lit­tle at the words ‘joy­ful ac­cla­ma­tions, shout­ing out for Mary’, and it is hard not to raise an eye­brow at the sweet boys’ voices singing in Latin about the gy­nae­co­log­i­cal de­tails of Mary’s preg­nancy. Their great­est skill is shown in their han­dling of the in­tri­ca­cies of the Videte mass, with its ec­static run­ning ex­changes at ‘Domi­nus Deus’ in the Glo­ria and the ethe­real vi­sions of the Agnus Dei. An­thony Pryer

PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★ RECORD­ING ★★★★

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