De Profundis, Robert Hollingworth
+Assumpsit Jesus Petrum, Assumpta est Maria, De profundis, Magnificat primi toni, Surge propera amica mea, Veni dilecte mi & Versa est in luctum
For those of us more used to hearing Renaissance and early baroque Spanish polyphony sung by mixed choirs and at relatively high pitch, this recording comes as both a surprise and something of a revelation. De Profundis is a relatively large group for this music: six or seven singers per voice part in an all-male line-up with falsetto voices on the top line. Its name reflects its ethos in performing at low pitch and, on this recording, is directed by Robert Hollingsworth who uses the opportunity to aim for a more balanced and inter-dependent sound than that of other groups. The result is a very homogenous texture with excellent tuning and close attention to the text. A bassoon adds depth to the bottom line, both in the polyphony and in the tutti sections of the plainchant, as was customary in Spanish cathedrals. The Mass movements are broken up with idiomatically-sung plainchant and offertory and communion motets. Then come five further motets and an alternatim Magnificat. It is a well-chosen programme which shows the breadth of Vivanco’s achievement, from the expressive depths of the motets De Profundis and Versa est in luctum to the riotous counterpoint of the Mass’s Osanna and the motet Assumpta est Maria. My own favourites were the two Song of Songs motets, Surge propera and Veni dilecte mi which, while largely homophonic, are particularly fine examples of word-setting and expression. The choir sings with great commitment and forward momentum, maybe too much of the latter at times in the Mass where a bit more contrast would not have come amiss. Bruno Turner has given a guiding hand throughout and has written his usual highly informative liner notes. The group is to be congratulated on a very well-planned and successfully executed project.
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