Ludford: Missa Dominica

Trinity Boys Choir, Handbell Choir Gotha, Lewis Brito-Babapulle, David Swinson
79:21
Rondeau Horizon ROP8001

This CD provides a window on a neglected area of repertoire, the generally small-scale settings by Renaissance composers of the extended ordinary for Ladymass. While the excellent Nicholas Ludford has never quite regained the reputation he deserves as an outstanding and highly original Renaissance English composer, at least his larger-scale mass settings have all been recorded several times. The same cannot be said of his three-part settings of the Ladymass, one of which is recorded here for the first time. Presenting the music in two different guises, for unaccompanied choral voices, and for solo voices accompanied by organ, both of which work very well, is an excellent concept. The handbells, something of an add-on in this programme, supply two accounts of the Square Le Roy, as well as joining the boys in one of the later modern works. Although much of the singing is pleasantly lyrical, there is occasional downward pressure on the intonation. Having said that, the clear tone of the boys’ voices blends beautifully with Ludford’s imaginative writing for them, suggesting that these settings are well worth further exploration. In addition to the Mass, the choir provides lovely performances of the medieval carols Ther is no Rose of Swych Vertu  and Angelus ad Virginem  (with some curious choices of hard and soft consonants) as well as two modern pieces. The Trinity Boys Choir are to be congratulated for tackling this neglected and technically demanding music, and this CD very usefully provides a window on an important part of Ludford’s output and a generally overlooked body of early polyphony.4555

D. James Ross

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