Lassus: Magnificat

die Singphoniker
64:16
cpo 777 957-2
Settings of the Magnificat along with the chanson or motet upon which they were based: Da le belle contrade & O s’io potessi donna  (de Berchem), Praeter rerum seriem  (Josquin), S’io credessi per morte essere scarco  (de Reulx), Il est jour  (Sermisy) & Ultimi miei sospiri (Verdelot)

The thesis of this CD is both simple and brilliant – to present six ‘parody’ Magnificats by the eclectic Lassus paired with their source chanson or motet. I have previously admired the Singphonikers’ splendid unanimity of timbre and intonation, and both are again in evidence here. They have a clear affinity with the music of Lassus and present these alternatim settings complete with chanted episodes in flawless performances which are throroughly convincing and beautifully crafted. The true genius of this format is that having established the unifying theme for the CD we get to hear a bewildering variety of ‘stimulus material’ composed by a diverse basket of European composers including Cipriano de Rore, Giachet de Berchem, Josquin, Claudin, Anselmo de Reulx and Philippe Verdelot. Sitting at the heart of Europe in Munich Lassus cast his net far and wide, and absorbed influences like a sponge. It is fascinating how he employs his chosen ‘models’ at the same time stamping them firmly with the Lassus trademark. I loved this CD, and even as someone who has sung, played and listened to more than my fair share of Lassus’ music I found the programme a fruitful learning experience, and a delight to listen to. Forty of Lassus’ jaw-dropping 110 settings of the Magnificat are ‘ad imitationem cantilenarum’, so there is plenty of material left for future Singphoniker albums!

D. James Ross