During the last twenty years of his life, Orlande de Lassus was the most celebrated composer in Europe. From the time that he took up the duties of maestro di cappella in the Court of the Duke of Bavaria at Munich, he began to be called ‘prince of musicians’ and ‘the divine Olrande’. The pieces selected for this recording represent Lassus’ treatment of the theme of dealth during the mature period. The first group considered the death of Christ: second, the death of a christian.
Lassus: Lamentationes Jeremiae Prophetae
What people are saying
directed: Stephen Cleobury
Release date:1st Apr 2006
|BBC Music Magazine, June 2006
Most of these works date from the 1580s. They were written when Lassus was at the court in Munich and are magnificnet, mature masterpieces. The Lamentations are his set for five voices, but we only get the Maundy Thursday group here, not the complete run through to Holy Saturday. Also the four-voiced Requiem Mass is on a smaller scale than is other settings, but no less profound for that. The two motets ‘In monte Olivete’ and ‘Vide homo’ are a great bonus, and were widely admired in the 16th century (and later).
The Collegium Regale is a choir of 14 male singers from King’s College Cambridge. In the Lamentations Stephen Cleobury forces an almost organ-like effect from them – a strong, relentlessly sustained sound, with plenty of swell but not much inflection and not much real sense of lamentation. The Requiem Mass is altogether different. There is still the full sound at climaxes (in the Sanctus, for example), but the Introit is given a quietly magical ending and, in the verse of the Gradual (‘Virga tua’), we are treated to a sparkling display of virtuosic but balanced singing. The recording ends with ‘Vide homo’, a work Lassus composed just three weeks before his death; its reflective tones finally manage to evoke some inward quality from the choir. Having said all that, there are very few recordings of these pieces, and so we must be grateful for these clear, musical performances sustained by some rock solid singing.
The Sunday Times, 14th May 2006 ***
Collegium Regale is, simply, the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, minus the boys. Here, under Cleobury’s direction, their luxuriant blend of voices is lavished on two large-scale works by Lassus, enveloping the listener in an indulgent cocoon of sound (and who cares if it is authentic or not?).
The five-part Lamentations of Jeremiah for Maundy Thursday (1585) preceeds with dignified restraint. The Requiem, notable for its succinct, clean outlines and compositional freedom, is given a properly sober, intimate reading, though perhaps it is too closely miked. Two great motets, the six-voice In monte Oliveti and the moving, seven-voice Vide homo, and the plainsong tract Absolve Domine complete an alluring disc.
The Times, 8 – 14th April 2006 *****
It is traditional to perform the Lamentations of Jeremiah the Prophet during Holy Week. Here, Collegium Regale, or King’s College Cambridge minus the trebles, sings the version by Roland de Lassus in exquisitely indulgent slow moving five-part counterpoint, milking delicious penitence from every line. No sinner could ignore the culminating solemn call to repent : “Jerusalem convertere ad Dominum.” It is incredible to think that these mature vocalists are mere students who must be recycled every three years. The mystery of the choir achieves its gorgeous blend with such transitory, albeit overlapping, personnel.
|The Daily Telegraph, 15th April 2006
It is a particular pleasure – and one that is a great deal rarer than it ought to be – to listen to a recording of Renaissance vocal music where the words are so clearly enunciated that there is never the slightest doubt as to what is being sung at any given moment. The pleasure is all the greater when, as with Lassus’s setting of the Lamentations for Maundy Thursday, the composer is responding to a highly emotive text with word-painting of the greatest subtlety, where much of the expressive effect depends on the precise placing of a pianissimo that dwindles to nothing, or a sudden violently agitated climax.
Collegium Regale’s meticulously disciplined singing ensures that these subtleties make their fullest impact in a performance that reflects this deceptively simple music’s fluctuating emotions, from the sense of emptiness and horror at the contemplation of the desolate city to brief moments of irrepressible anger. Their dark, rich sound enables the group to bring a similar intensity to Lassus’s last work, the motet Vide homo, which overflows with anguish.
- Lamentatio Prima – Lamentationes Jeremi? Prophet? (5vv, 1585) – Primi Diei (Thursday in Holy Week) – [8.37]
- Lamentatio Secunda – Lamentationes Jeremi? Prophet? (5vv, 1585) – Primi Diei (Thursday in Holy Week) – [8.37]
- Lamentatio Tertia – Lamentationes Jeremi? Prophet? (5vv, 1585) – Primi Diei (Thursday in Holy Week) – [8.52]
- Motet: In monte Oliveti (6vv, 1568) – Lamentationes Jeremi? Prophet? (5vv, 1585) – Primi Diei (Thursday in Holy Week) – [4.10]
- Tract: Absolve, Domine (Mode VIII) – Lamentationes Jeremi? Prophet? (5vv, 1585) – Primi Diei (Thursday in Holy Week) – [3.00]
- Introitus: Requiem ?ternam – Requiem – Missa pro defunctis (4vv, 1578) – [6.29]
- Kyrie eleison – Requiem – Missa pro defunctis (4vv, 1578) – [3.35]
- Graduale: Si ambulem – Requiem – Missa pro defunctis (4vv, 1578) – [5.30]
- Offertorium: Domine Jesu Christe – Requiem – Missa pro defunctis (4vv, 1578) – [6.20]
- Sanctus – Requiem – Missa pro defunctis (4vv, 1578) – [4.40]
- Agnus Dei – Requiem – Missa pro defunctis (4vv, 1578) – [3.19]
- Communio: Lux ?terna – Requiem – Missa pro defunctis (4vv, 1578) – [3.34]
- Motet: Vide homo (7vv, 1594) – Requiem – Missa pro defunctis (4vv, 1578) – [3.21]