La Chapelle Rhénane, Benoît Haller
When I saw this announced in the monthly bulletin from harmonia mundi, I was very excited; I have long been a passionate advocate of Capricornus’s exceptionally fine vocal music, and the timing was great as a new recording of his Jubilus Bernardi is in the pipeline from an American ensemble. When it arrived, however, I realised that it is a re-release of a 2007 recording which Clifford must have passed on to someone else to review. My initial disappointment was quickly overcome when I listened to the disc and allowed myself to be moved once more by Capricornus; I cannot put my finger on precisely what it is that he does that resonates so deeply within me. For one thing, his word setting – not in the sense of “painting the meaning in music”, but rather almost imitating the natural rhythms of the spoken word – makes understanding the texts much more simple than if they were simply set to melodies that lend themselves to arcane contrapuntal ingenuity; somehow his music speaks to the listener directly.
The programme intersperses three pairs of German works on the suffering and death with four pairs of Latin motets from his Theatrum musicum; the former requires two sopranos, four gambas and continuo, while the latter replaces the sopranos with alto, tenor and bass. Thus the language and the vocal timbre alrernates throughout. Much as I enjoyed the recording (though with some reservations about the continuo realisations and some of the frankly “worldly” singing, most evident in O felix jucunditas), my CD of choice for this repertoire will remain and even older one by Le Parlement de Musique with Martin Gester. The present booklet has reasonable notes, but no translations of the texts.