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GRAMOPHONE (09/2015)
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Reviewer: Fabrice Fitch

Rore’s discography hardly reflects his stature, so the chance to hear one of his Masses in multiple interpretations is a rare treat. The Brabant Ensemble’s account of Missa Doulce mémoire is recent but it is more than 20 years since The Tallis Scholars recorded the large-scale motets Infelix ego and Parce mihi. Against this competition the Laudantes Consort more than hold their own.


Doulce mémoire was one of the bestknown chansons of its day, its pedigree no doubt enhanced by the fact that the text’s author was King Francis I himself. Rore’s choice of it as a model may have been motivated by that royal connection, for it seems quite far removed from his own style. The slightly deeper timbre of the Laudantes Consort gives it the edge over the Brabants, although their take on the Flemish sound is still comparatively light. Markedly slower tempi allow them to linger more broodingly over details, especially in the longer movements; this too seems to me a distinct advantage.


Laudantes’ willingness sensitively to inflect the musical text in the Mass is well taken (though a shade overdone in the chordal passages); if anything, one could have done with even more of the same in the motets. Thus, the stand-out moment near the end of Parce mihi is a cadence on ‘dormiam’ (for ‘sleep’, read ‘death’), and at the end of Infelix ego the ‘miserere’ ostinato, hitherto confined to one voice, overtakes the texture in a magnificent stretto. Though acknowledged here, these key moments might have been rendered still more expressively. That said, Laudantes’ restraint compares favourably with the technically unimpeachable but opaque accounts from The Tallis Scholars. Less than an hour’s music is a bit skimpy nowadays, but these new accounts justify their place in the catalogue.


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