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GRAMOPHONE (02/2008)
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Appréciation d'ensemble / Overall evaluation : "Worth hearing? Most definitely".

Reviewer: Fabrice Fitch

This is a typically imaginative programme from Paul van Nevel, a triptych of Masses all the more welcome for being served up without the eccentric interpretative decisions that have featured in (some would say marred) many previous offerings. I have always admired his ensemble's tone: clear but not overly bright however high the sopranos must soar, and in the bottom register rich and full The two acknowledged Renaissance masters do very well: the Huelgas have a long-standing affinity with Lassus, and van Nevel's reading of the Missa Tous les regretz may be preferred over the existing competition from the Choir of New College Oxford, fine though this is. That of the Palestrina is perhaps not quite so lucid, and it is here shorn of its Credo for reasons of space; but a good alternative is available complete on Analekta.


The real discovery here, and the work that earns this disc the highest recommendation, is Thomas Ashewell, whose Missa Ave Maria is something of a minor masterpiece, full of fine detail and the kaleidoscopic sonority that makes early Tudor polyphony so absorbing. It has also a focus sometimes lacking in this repertory. Ashewell may well have taught the young John Taverner, but even so, the extent to which the work appears to be a dress rehearsal (though by no means a mere dry run) for the younger man 's more famous Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas is astounding: the way the plainchant is presented in the top voice to set the words "In nomine" in the Sanctus is surely a dead giveaway. Worth hearing? Most definitely.


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