de Rore: [Missa] Doulce Mémoire

Laudantes Consort, Guy Janssens
sonamusica SONA1504
+Agimus tibi gratias, Infelix ego & Parce mihi Domine

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he urbanely elegant polyphony of Cipriano de Rore can sound a little impersonal, but the Mass Doulce Mémoire (based on the melancholy song of that name by de Roré’s French contemporary Pierre Sendrin) shows the suave international master also capable of emotion and passion. A composer whose portraits show an ascetic, gaunt of face and sunken of cheek, and who famously – and perhaps uniquely – failed to be charmed by Venice, is something of an enigma, and his music sometimes seems equally mysterious. The Laudantes Consort under their director Guy Janssens explores this enigma in the Mass Doulce Mémoire and three of de Rore’s most expressive and powerful motets, and generally sympathetic singing and direction provides insights into this intriguing music. If the strong top line masks occasional infelicities in the alto part, resulting perhaps from the mixed sex alto line-up, the overall sound is rich and tuneful. It is nice to see the name of Erik van Nevel, himself a prominent and perceptive conductor of this sort of repertoire, featuring in the bass section of the choir, and a highly readable and informative programme note by the eminent musicologist Ignace Bossuyt ensures that this is a valuable contribution to the enhancement of de Rore’s reputation.

D. James Ross

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