Lassus: Missa super Dixit Joseph & Motets

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Late Renaissance composer Orlande de Lassus is known mostly for his vivid, often somber short motets and secular works, but the Missa super Dixit Joseph, a "parody mass" involving skilled adaptation and development of a preexisting work, here a motet, is an excellent example of his talents, moving away gradually from the model over the course of each of its sections and introducing increasingly pungent chromatic combinations. The mass works well here when framed by a group of extremely dark Lassus motets, including the one that provides the source material for the mass, and there's no doubting the technical talents of the Austrian sextet Cinquecento. Where there is doubt is in the forces involved: Cinquecento uses but one voice per part, dubious in the case of a composer whose works were demonstrably performed with as many as 50 singers or more. The performances are madrigalian in the extreme, perhaps not a bad idea in music by one of history's greatest madrigal composers, but the presence of another contemporary recording of this mass by the larger (although still sparse) group Odhecaton suggests another way to go. This one is well done for those who like this style, but it's fundamentally mannered. There's nothing at all wrong with Hyperion's engineering, accomplished at an Austrian cloister.

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