Schola Cantorum of Syracuse

The Cause Is Love

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The Schola Cantorum of Syracuse isn't on the level of the Tallis Scholars, but there's something appealing about their performances of these two landmarks of the Renaissance mass. With 16 singers, four to a part, they are just the right size for these works. They don't always blend to a single voice, but when one singer or another emerges from the group timbre it's because all are singing enthusiastically, carried away by the flights of line in these a cappella works. The sound is bright throughout, and the best feature is the transparency of texture that director Barry Torres creates -- anyone wanting to get out a score and follow Ockeghem's Missa prolationum through its dizzying-but-unheard mathematical complexities (he never lets you see him sweat) might well pick this disc over the various others available. The Dufay ballade Se la face ay pale, to which disc's title refers, is included, for it was the model of the Missa se la face ay pale featured on the disc's first half. The verse translation of its text, from a presumably local liner-note writer, is charming. This disc, marketed through a website that sells classical recordings from central New York State, speaks to the continuing vitality of Renaissance music at a local level, outside the circle of specialist performers through which it is generally transmitted.

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