Miserere mei Deus, a 2018 release on Harmonia Mundi, is a moving collection of funeral motets and deplorations by the Franco-Flemish master Josquin des Prez, as performed by Daniel Reuss and the chamber choir Cappella Amsterdam. The practice of composing lamentations on the deaths of great artists became fashionable in the late 15th century, and Josquin's Déploration sur la mort d'Ockeghem, combining the Requiem aeternam chant with the chanson Nymphes des bois, is a major example of this genre. Yet the album offers a variety of other forms and texts at Josquin's disposal, showing that the trend of composing mournful choral works brought the dolorous affect into settings of the Pater Noster, the Ave Maria, and the psalms. Though possibly spurious, Absalon fili mi is perhaps the most famous of works attributed to Josquin, anthologized on many recordings and highlighted in most music history courses, and because it is representative of Cappella Amsterdam at its finest, this track is recommended for sampling. The purity of Josquin's counterpoint is a constant throughout this program, and the ensemble presents these somber motets with a warm radiance that balances their gloominess with calm beauty. The recording in the Walloon Church in Amsterdam is focused on the choir, so the textures and harmonies are transparent without excessive resonance in the background.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|In principio erat Verbum|
|Planxit autem David|
|Miserere mei, Deus|