La Rue: Missa Pourquoy non

Pourquoy non?
University of New Hampshire Chamber Singers - William Kempster
University of New Hampshire 0516

This disc is listed entirely for the La Rue mass (which occupies 36 and a half minutes of the program).

The sound on this recording is rather distant, and it takes more effort than it sometimes does to really "get into" the performance. It's a student ensemble performing highly virtuosic music, and there are some lapses, but the music is still presented rather successfully in that one can still "hear through" lapses & imagine how it might sound with more experienced singers. The basic structure of the music is handled quite well in this regard, and indeed Kempster simultaneously published an article establishing this previously mysterious mass as based on La Rue's chanson.

So the music does shine through, and given the lack of performance options, this interpretation is valuable. This is generally considered to be La Rue's first mass setting, and as noted, it is a highly virtuosic setting, with the chanson infusing the polyphony very densely at times, yielding fast cascading lines. It's high energy music, and it's easy to believe that if this is actually La Rue's first mass setting, it made a big impression. As Kempster argues, this is a key work in his output, and not just for a sense of historical priority, but because of the novel style & sophistication, i.e. the quality of the music itself.

To renaissance sacred list

Todd M. McComb