Sidney Sussex College Choir, Cambridge

Ludwig Senfl: Missa Paschalis; Motetten & Lieder

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Ludwig Senfl was a major figure among musicians in the German renaissance; he was gainfully employed for many years as a court composer for Emperor Maximilian I and collaborated with Heinrich Isaac in compiling the massive Choralis Constantinus. After casting off his priestly frock to marry, Senfl was actively involved in editing manuscript music and working as a freelance composer. His contribution was valued by both the established Latin and emergent Reformation church, and large numbers of his works were preserved; Senfl's music is of such uniformly high quality that sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint what stands out. The Choir of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, led by David Skinner and joined by period brass group QuintEssential and harpist Andrew Lawrence-King, do a splendid job of assembling a strong program of Senfl in Obsidian's Ludwig Senfl: Missa Paschalis, Motetten & Lieder. The Missa Paschalis is not presented as a unit, but presented in two halves with a scattering of Senfl's songs, and one instrumental piece, in between. This must've been devised in order to avoid monotony and to spread the program out more evenly among the various kinds of pieces under consideration, but it probably would have been preferable to present the mass as a whole. Nevertheless, one can organize one's player to deliver it that way, and it is an attractive and appropriately devotional performance of the Missa Paschalis, with the voices blending very well with the period horns. One might have liked a bit more of the soprano voices, but the overall balance is fine. Senfl's songs, featuring King's harp and two vocal soloists, are much quieter than the choral music and one may want to jockey the volume a bit.

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