Paul McCreesh / Gabrieli Consort & Players

Morales: Mass for the Feast of St. Isidore of Seville

(CD - Archiv Produktion #474228)

Review by

Celestial music and a celestial performance: Paul McCreesh's ingenious construction of a Mass for the Feast of St. Iisidore of Seville, as it might have been celebrated in Toledo Cathedral around 1590, deserves to be called a resplendent sonic and spiritual feast. Realizing that authenticity in performance is an ideal, McCreesh instead focuses, as Dorothea Schroder explained in the liner notes, "that romanticizing, subjectively influenced beauty of sound against which the champions of authentic performance practice had been crusading for decades." Indeed, McCreesh has said that what is termed authentic can only be imagined. In this case, his creative imagination is inspired by the sacred music of sixteenth century Spain. In order to create the experience of attending a mass in 1590, McCreesh chose the Missa "Mille regretz" by Cristóbal de Morales, interspersing it with Gregorian chant and instrumental pieces by various contemporary composers. The effect is magnificent. Beautifully performed by the Gabrieli Consort and Players, the music instantly and without warning takes the listener to the passionate, distant, spellbinding world of Spanish Catholic spirituality. Played flawlessly on period instruments, including recorders, cornets, shawms, and sackbuts, the instrumental pieces bring to mind a rich tapestry of warm colors and finely sculpted sonic forms. The choral singing has resplendent, finely wrought contours of religious feeling presented within the opulent harmonic architecture of seemingly inexhaustible forms against the background of a discreet play of melodic lights and shadows. McCreesh is truly magisterial as he molds the fluid choral structure, knowing exactly when to indicate the moments when contemplation yields illumination, moments brought to the listener by an unmistakable, plangent, and soulful presence of the falsetto voices.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1
02:44
2
02:07
3
01:49
Tiento del quinto ton for organ
4
01:15
5
03:11
Missa "Mille regretz"
6
05:30
7
04:23
8
01:09
Tiento del quarto ton for organ
9
01:29
10
01:55
11
01:08
12
01:15
13
02:00
Missa "Mille regretz"
14
08:59
15
01:04
16
03:40
17
03:10
Missa "Mille regretz"
18
05:29
19
02:48
20
02:14
Missa "Mille regretz"
21
06:58
22
01:07
23
01:06
24
00:50
25
01:50
26
00:51
27
06:09
blue highlight denotes track pick