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Fanfare Magazine: 38:4 (03-04/2015)
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Reviewer: J. F. Weber

Just issued eight years ago (Fanfare 30:1), this is already back in an economical little box with two discs in paper sleeves and a small booklet of notes with contents and personnel. The collection of psalms is one of the finest examples of the work of Orlandus Lassus (1532–1594), recorded many times in whole or in part. In the only recording reviewed since its first appearance, that of Eckehard Kiem (37:5), I tried to sort out the makeup of performing forces, ranging from one voice to a part to full choirs. Herreweghe is clearly in the middle with 14 singers, but other vocal ensembles with eight to 12 members may be singing one or two to a part. (One group of 12 voices is called a chamber choir.) I concluded by rating Kiem’s group and Henry’s Eight (22:1) next to Herreweghe, all using unaccompanied voices, as my preferred versions. An older version by the Hilliard Ensemble used the Kees Boeke instrumental ensemble in some of the psalms, the best choice among the accompanied versions.

Herreweghe is slightly slower than the other three sets just mentioned, though not as slow as some single versions. I continue to return to it as the most gratifying way of hearing this marvelous music. Herreweghe appreciates the composer’s Flemish roots, the best way I can account for his way with the music. The three reviews cited above tell much more about the work and the variety of recordings, so it is not necessary to repeat it here. Only the essay on the music is retained from the elaborate original booklet. If you missed this the first time around, don’t hesitate to take advantage of the bargain price. This should be a prime entry in any Lassus collection.

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