La Rue: Missa de Feria / Missa Sancta Dei Genitrix

La Rue: Missa de Feria / Missa Sancta Dei Genitrix
Gothic Voices - Christopher Page
Hyperion 67010

These are two fine masses by La Rue, plus the grand motet. Each has definite points of interest, and the combined program of two significant masses and a major six-part motet is a relatively strong one. The Missa de Feria comes off as particularly analytical, certainly a point of singularity, but a mixed signal as well. However, the lute arrangements are of limited value.

The performance is good, building on Gothic Voices' previous mass recordings, and showing a real poise here. Although too detached, there is a nice ludicity to the presentation, and some good ideas on how to articulate these larger forms are illustrated effectively. The phrasing is sometimes too naïvely episodic, but the larger points of the performance are handled well, and the clarity of sonority is certainly welcome.

Altogether, this is a very worthwhile reading with some authority behind it. It combines a good formal understanding of La Rue's music with clear vocal textures. The big question is whether this group can use the present interpretation as a springboard to more thoroughly explore the fine music of c.1500, as it is certainly in need of more attention of this type.

In the end, while the masses have their points of interest, it is difficult to consider either especially compelling. Imitation is the focus here, and the interpretation seizes upon these technical aspects, giving the whole production a certain lack of emotion. However, the clarity of texture brought to this music continues to give this disc value.

To renaissance sacred list

Todd M. McComb