The Augsburger Domsingknaben, or boy singers of Augsburg Cathedral, have a claim to be the perfect group to interpret the music of the south German composer Hans Leo Hassler, a student of Andrea Gabrieli whose music straddles the Renaissance and Baroque eras. The young choristers come from the same area where the music originated, and, like some of the English cathedral choirs, they have a history going back to the middle of the last millennium (although not quite so continuous). The zippy boychoir performance of madrigal-style music is a bit out of fashion, but here, in German madrigals that Hassler modeled closely on the lighter sort of 16th century Italian madrigal, the Augsburger singers offer an enjoyable example of the style. The weak spot is the opening Missa octo vocum or eight-voice mass, where the boy sopranos are not quite able to deliver pitch-perfect intonation in complex high passages; the more relaxed and melodious Missa Ecce quam bonum, a so-called parody mass based on one of the composer's own motets, is more consistently successful. The Latin text of the mass, which is not really necessary, is included, but the madrigals are given only in German, along with a lot of white space that could have been put to better use; booklet notes are in German, English, and French. Recorded in 2003, this album was reissued by the Ars Musici label in 2009; the sonics remain exemplary. Recommended for fans of boychoir singing, for the group deserves credit for tackling unusual and difficult repertoire.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Missa octo vocum, for two 4-part choirs|
|Missa Ecce quam bonum, for 5 parts|