Choir of King's College London / David Trendell

Philippe Rogier: Missa Ego sum qui sum; Motets

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Philippe Rogier, despite his name and Franco-Flemish origin, played a late hand in the Spanish Renaissance in the service of King Philip II of Spain. The Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 wreaked a heavy toll on Rogier's survival rate, but a significant amount of his music remains, including 7 masses and 36 motets; nevertheless, his work is not recorded very frequently. David Trendell and the Choir of King's College, London, selects one surviving mass and four motets and combines them into the program that makes up Hyperion's Philippe Rogier: Missa Ego sum qui sum; Motets. On the first and last motets they are joined by the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble in motets that have additional parts for instruments. This is only the third time that a whole CD's contents have been given over to the music of Rogier.

Recorded in the church of All Hallows, Gospel Oak in London, this Hyperion disc has a good sound and conveys reasonably good performances overall, though the first two tracks are less disciplined sounding than the remaining 10 and the brass group isn't well integrated into the general texture. However, the music is only intermittently captivating; the motets Locutus sum in lingua mea, Laboravi in gemitu meo, and the Benedictus from the Missa Ego sum qui sum stand out as being exceptional, but much of it sounds a little like going through the motions in a style strongly informed by Tomás Luis da Victoria with perhaps a little dash of Gombert thrown in for good measure. Common wisdom dictates that Rogier's reputation is better supported through his secular works rather than the sacred ones, which are conservative; rather than representing the hallowed Franco-Flemish line of sacred composers at its zenith, this appears to capture it a little past its prime. That is not to denigrate the fine job done here by David Trendell and the Choir of King's College, London, and those deep into the Spanish Renaissance may well gain something from it; the pieces mentioned by name are certainly well worth experiencing, though listeners coming to this for the first time really ought to familiarize themselves with Victoria first.

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