Missa Caput / Missa Veterem hominem

The Spirits of England and France - IV & V
Missa Caput / Missa Veterem hominem
Gothic Voices - Christopher Page
IV: Hyperion 66857
V: Hyperion 66919

I list these two CDs together, because not only were they conceived together and recorded at the same time, but the main parts of the program(s) are easily included on one disc.

The masses are clearly the main items on each program. They are both historically significant and high-quality music. If anything, the Missa Caput is more compelling, and is indeed one of the seminal cantus firmus masses in Western history.

This performance is a good one. I particularly admire the clarity achieved, especially as Gothic Voices embarks on this genre for the first time. However, some phrasing is forced, and the articulation is not careful everywhere. The singing is generally very fast, which is interesting, but also a drawback at times. Nonetheless, the performances are more than serviceable and sometimes stimulating. The second is somewhat more detailed.

The antiphons & carols & other works include some items of interest, especially in the longer polyphonic tracks, although they remain of secondary significance here. They are generally well-performed, especially in the polyphony. The chants could use more melodic nuance.

The monophonic chants perhaps require an extra note... I can certainly appreciate Gothic Voices' desire to intersperse monophonic works between the movements, and I often enjoy that approach. However, in this case, the pieces chosen have no relation to the masses which they are intended to support and end up contributing nothing to them.

Nonetheless, even spread over two discs, there is some worthwhile music here.

To renaissance sacred list

Todd M. McComb