Die Singphoniker

Orlando di Lasso: Magnificat

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Germany's Die Singphoniker is known as a counterpart to The King's Singers, and like that group they have made perhaps their strongest commercial impact with crossover material. Again like The King's Singers, though, they have made superb recordings of Renaissance material in a manner undiluted by contact with pop. With this album you get crossover music of a sort from the 16th century: there are six Magnificat settings by Orlando di Lasso that are based not on plainchant but on preexisting secular songs, in the manner of a so-called "parody" mass. These differ from masses in that the source material is entirely evident and is allowed to flavor the Magnificat strongly, with fascinating results; in a mass the secular material may be hidden behind a layer of intellectual artifice. Sample any of the pairs for the flavor of this inexplicably neglected music, perhaps the Magnificat Secundi Toni: Il est jour, elegantly troping a one-minute chanson by Claudin de Sermisy. The six members of Die Singphoniker have an expert vocal blend, but what's more important is that they capture the sense of fun in this music, something that would've been apparent to an audience of Lasso's time but difficult to recapture at a distance of four centuries. Highly recommended.

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