La Rue: Mass of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin / Easter Mass

La Rue: Mass of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin / Easter Mass
Ars Antiqua de Paris - Michel Sanvoisin
Naxos 8.554656

Although the marginal sound quality makes a poor first impression, this is a workman-like performance of some fine music. This long-established ensemble chose to rededicate itself to La Rue, and while I had some grand dreams of excellence left unfulfilled, the performance does manage to be worthwhile.

The program itself is superb, perhaps the best devoted to La Rue, and certainly took a notable step (at the time) by moving into unrecorded portions of his oeuvre. It continues to illustrate some of his most variety-filled music.

Although the voices can sometimes be grating in this performance, the Missa de Septem Doloribus is particularly fluid & majestic in a way not accomplished by other composers. The Missa Pascale presents a tighter motivic world, which seems to spin in on itself in development, capturing a distinctive sense of unity derived from so many different themes. There the performance seems a bit more polished.

If anything, given the perspective of the listing as a whole, any performance issues here seem to fade into the background with time. The clashing dissonances that arise at times become a part of the style, and I find them more engaging than interpretations that are overly smooth. This is still an easy disc to recommend for me.

To renaissance sacred list

Todd M. McComb