Cantica Symphonia, Giuseppe Maletto
It is indeed remarkable that this present disc is the first complete recording of the Isaac’s Mass Misericordias Domini, and several of the motets which accompany it here are also receiving premiere recordings. As one of Josquin’s most accomplished contemporaries, Isaac suffers perhaps from his versatility resulting in several of his minor works becoming very familiar but some of his great masterworks remaining neglected. One such is the Mass recorded here, a work of profound and original genius, and demonstrating the virtues so highly praised by the scholar Glareanus after Isaac’s death. Glareanus admires Isaac’s ability to decorate a cantus while embodying it fully into the polyphonic texture as well as his skill with brief musical motifs, often developed in elaborately extended sequences.
What is perhaps more striking to us is the highly ‘modern’ sound of this Mass setting, anticipating those concise settings of the French Court some fifty years after his death. Although the Mass is given a purely vocal treatment here, allowing Isaac’s magnificent and distinctive counterpoint to shine through, some of the motets are given altogether more lavish performances incorporating organ and stringed and brass instruments. The performers seem utterly at home with Isaac’s music and give highly persuasive accounts of all of the music here, making this a very valuable addition to the limited Isaac discography. An informative, intelligent and very readable programme note by Guido Magnano rounds off this impressive and highly enjoyable production.
D. James Ross