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Fanfare Magazine: 22:6 (07-08/1999)
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Harmonia Mundi
HMG 501682

Code-barres / Barcode: 0794881852628

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Reviewer: J. F. Weber

This disc … gathers an interesting collection of familiar (Robert White and Lassus) and unfamiliar settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah that used to form the highlight of Tenebrae on the three nights before Easter. While White is not exactly a household word, this five-voice setting qualifies as familiar from several previous recordings, most recently by the Tallis Scholars (his six-voice setting has been recorded only by Pro Cantione Antiqua). The Lassus set has been recorded complete three times, notably by Philippe Herreweghe; here we have only the three settings for the second night, or Good Friday.

The other two composers are typical of Paul van Nevel's enterprising programming. Tiburtio Massaino (c.l550-c.l609), the latest of these four composers, was an Augustinián friar who ended a checkered career in Piacenza, where he composed simple settings (those of the first night are heard here) suitable for a religious community. Marbrianus de Orto (c.l460-c.l529), the earliest of the four, seems to have been trained at Tournai, and sang in the papal chapel, where he wrote this work (again the settings of the first night are heard), which was published by Petrucci. These homophonic settings also have a simplicity that was the antithesis of any display, though oddly they are accompanied by a continuo group.

Van Nevel clearly appreciates the feat of putting together new discoveries such as these, so the disc is worth hearing for the latter two composers. But his White is a bit faster than the Tallis version (Fanfare 22:1), and his Lassus is a bit faster than Herreweghe, though equal to Pro Cantione Antiqua, currently available in a Hyperion twofer; both of these offer a complete set of nine Lamentations. Even so, van Nevel's tempos are acceptable, and as a varied collection this is quite as interesting as the recent Tallis Scholars disc. 

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