Helper and Protector – Italian Maestri in Poland

The Sixteen, Eamonn Dougan
67:32
CORO COR16141
Music by Bertolusi, Marenzio & Pacelli

The big name here is Luca Marenzio, whose recently reassembled Missa super Iniquos odio habui  provides a spine through this interesting programme. The Sixteen’s associate conductor Eamonn Dougan opens with music by less familiar composers, and specifically a powerful three-choir setting of Gaudent in Caelis  by Asprilio Pacelli, underlining the fact that here is an unfamiliar repertoire well worth exploring.

The same composer’s polychoral Beati estis  is also extremely fine. Marenzio’s two-choir Mass based on his own dramatic eight-part madrigal of the same name is also no slouch. Previously known only from the Kyrie and Gloria, the recent rediscovery of the rest of the Mass is genuine cause for celebration. Clearly the court of the Kings of Poland was a true magnet for the best of European musical talent, and although Marenzio’s visit to Poland was brief, he was clearly dropping in on a very lively and rich musical scene. It is always interesting to listen for changes in the sound produced by an established ensemble, and in the past I have had my doubts about some of the developments in the vocal production of the Sixteen. Under the direction of Dougan, and this is the fourth in a series of recordings he has directed, the vocal sound seems to have refocused and acquired a pleasing edge, which suits perfectly this busy polychoral repertoire.

D. James Ross