Nicholas Ludford, the preeminent composer of Catholic early 16th century England, has been largely ignored by performers until quite recently. Older than John Sheppard and younger than Robert Fayrfax, he has stylistic traits in common with both. Here you get a generous sampling of music associated with the Thursday Lady Mass in English Catholic worship, culminating in a big Missa Videte miraculum that, with its incipient use of imitation, you might take for Sheppard. The rest of the music consists of smaller chunks of polyphony in place of the vast edifices of Sheppard. Especially interesting is the Ninefold Kyrie, alternating short polyphonic settings of text with organ versets. These were recorded in a different location from the choral selections (and none of the music was recorded in Westminster Abbey itself); sample within the Ninefold Kyrie to see if you can identify the sonic shifts. They're subtle at worst. The Choir of Westminster Abbey under James O'Donnell is in its element here, and in the spacious realms of early English Renaissance polyphony they're preferable to the smaller groups that have recorded Ludford in the past. This is a strong release that will fill a gap on the shelves or hard drives of many English Renaissance enthusiasts.
Ludford: Ave Maria, ancilla Trinitatis; Missa Videte miraculum Review
by James Manheim