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GRAMOPHONE (02/2020)
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Hellinck: Missa Surrexit pastor; Lupi: Te Deum & motets Product Image

Code-barres / Barcode : 034571283043


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Reviewer: Edward Breen

Forget the glamour of Hollywood’s Rat Pack, the 16th century had a Wolf Pack of musicians whose names derive from the Latin lupus. The two composers on this disc may not be the best known but their music can be as suave and smooth as anything sung by ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ himself.

Lupus Hellinck’s (1493/94-1541) five-voice Missa Surrexit pastor bonus is based on a motet by Andreas de Silva (fl1520s). The textures are bright and spacious, with delightful trio and duet sections punctuating the movements. This pairing of upper voices suits the generally bright and perky performance style of The Brabant Ensemble and I also admire the pacing: erring towards brisk, the proportions of the movements are clear and the false relations cheekily piquant. Yet, as ever, I would prefer more shapely, indulgent phrasing; the Kyrie in particular is quite careful, the wide opening intervals suggesting to me a sense of expansion that this performance never quite delivers. Similarly, in the Gloria I would enjoy more overt dynamic contrasts: ‘Laudamus te, benedicimus te, adoramus te’ feels slightly efficient considering the rich harmonic framework of this Mass. However, this is but a brief distraction since moments of sheer beauty also abound, such as the trio beginning ‘Domine Deus, Agnus Dei’, with its delicate cadence on ‘filius patris’ infused with The Brabant Ensemble’s superbly citrusy tuning. There is also a very accomplished duet ‘Et resurrexit tertia die’, beautifully balanced and controlled.

The real highlight of this disc is Johannes Lupi’s (c1506-1539) Marian motet Salve celeberrima virgo: a rich, velvety texture thrillingly permeated with the spirit of Gombert, and sporting a cadence at ‘et quam decora’ that is near-identical to the first part of Lugebat David Absalon. Lupi again catches the ear with his motet Quam pulchra es via an extraordinary cadenza-like superbly accompanied by Arcangelo passage on the final Amen. As ever with Stephen Rice’s programmes, this album contains many enjoyable discoveries presented with a clean, bright sound that’s unrelentingly attractive and impressive.

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