BBC Music Magazine - - Choral & Song -

Motets, Madri­gals and Songs

Cap­pella Mediter­ranea; Choeur de Chambre du Na­mur/leonardo Gar­cía Alar­cón; Doulce Mé­moire/ De­nis Raisin Dadre

Ricer­car RIC 392 185:12 mins (3 discs)

To come across a disc de­voted solely to Jac­ques Ar­cadelt (c150768) is pretty nigh im­pos­si­ble; to en­counter three all in one su­perbly pack­aged box is a mir­a­cle. And

we have the 30th an­niver­sary of the Cham­ber Choir of Na­mur to thank for a project that fleshes out an am­bi­tious por­trait of lo­cal-boy­made-good, and one of the great­est of all Franco-flem­ish Re­nais­sance com­posers. It’s painted across three gen­res in which he ex­celled: a disc of sa­cred mu­sic en­trusted to the Na­mur choir; one ex­plor­ing the madri­gals al­lot­ted to Cap­pella Mediter­ranean (both en­sem­bles di­rected by Leonardo Gar­cía Alar­cón); and, the rev­e­la­tion of the set, a se­lec­tion of chan­sons shoul­dered by Doulce Mé­moire un­der De­nis Raisin Dadre.

The tra­jec­tory of Ar­cadelt’s life (Na­mur, Florence, Rome – where Michelan­gelo com­mis­sioned two set­tings of his po­ems – and Paris) is re­fracted through the vig­or­ous cross-fer­til­i­sa­tion to be found in his for­ward-look­ing mu­sic. The sa­cred mu­sic re­flects his roots in the likes of Josquin, while the Chan­sons are suf­fused with the madri­gal style and sunny sen­su­al­ity he’d ex­pe­ri­enced in Italy. Alar­cón gen­er­ally favours a smooth, con­sum­mate blend in the sa­cred works, but keeps the ex­pres­sive tem­per­a­ture overly chaste and re­strained (a more an­i­mated ‘Pater nos­ter’ and brightly pointed ‘Glo­riosae vir­gi­nis Mariae’ ex­cepted).

A close record­ing oc­ca­sion­ally leaves some mem­bers of Cap­pella Mediter­ranea un­com­fort­ably exposed in the madri­gals which are not al­ways ideally char­ac­terised; but hats off to Doulce Mé­moire who im­bue the chan­sons with pi­quancy, ten­der­ness, wit and vi­vac­ity. One song pithily hails an even­ing of fine wine, food… and singing Ar­cadelt! A land­mark, long over­due. Paul Ri­ley PER­FOR­MANCE RECORD­ING

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