Missa Confitebor tibi Domine; Ricercar del sesto tuono; Introduxit me rex in cellam; Ricercar del Quinto tuono; Benedicta sit sancta Trinitas; Loquebantur variis linguis; Magnificat primi toni; Confetibor tibi Domine Bruce Dickey (cornett), Liuwe Tamminga (organ); Yale Scholar Cantorum/david Hill
Hyperion CDA 68210 70:24 mins Written for the papal choir, the lush Missa Confitebor tibi Domine – based on Palestrina’s eight-voice motet of the same name – is nowadays a seldom heard work, making this recording all the more welcome. The composer’s native Roman tradition is splashed here with Venetian colours: first, in the use of ‘cori spezzati’, a technique developed at St Mark’s, Venice, which separates the choir into sub-groups to create dramatic antiphonal and acoustical effects; and, secondly, in interlacing the Mass movements with embellished versions of Palestrina’s motets arranged for cornett and organ – a practice and soundworld peculiarly popular in the Serenissima (indeed, two of these adaptations are by the Venetian composer Giovanni Bassano). The result is a richly varied musical tapestry, avoiding the sometimes monotonous effect of an entire disc of a cappella polyphony.
Under the masterly direction of David Hill, this crack student choir produces a clean yet luxuriant sound, ref lecting the sumptuous vocal resources that might have been used on a major feast day in one of the Roman churches. The sacred acoustic, slightly distant placement of the microphones, and seraphic high voices all combine to create an ethereal effect – indeed, the priority here is on pure timbral beauty rather than on text-driven articulation. As a result, the words don’t always cut through and verbal nuances are rather lost – though these are minor caveats to what are otherwise pristine accounts. The instrumental playing is both stylish and, at times, virtuosic – notably Bruce Dickey’s f loridly improvised ornamentation and dazzling agility. Kate Bolton-porciatti PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★