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Jakob Regnart Missa Super Oeniades Nymphae Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

It’s like musical time-travel for anyone who wants it.

Claire Rogers 2007

Cinquecento is an excellent all-male six-voice vocal ensemble whose members are drawn from five different European countries. Formed in Vienna in 2004, part of the group’s focus has been to concentrate on the music of lesser known 16th century composers, as reflected in their acclaimed debut disc featuring music from the Court of Maximilian II. This follow-up CD of works by the little-known Flemish composer Jacob Regnart should be set for an equally glowing critical reception.

Jacob Regnart was one of five Regnart brothers who were composing to some degree or other towards the end of the 1500s. The most prolific of the brothers, the details of Jacob’s life are surprisingly well documented thanks to the meticulous records kept at the time by the Habsburgs, in whose service he remained for most of his career. The CD’s useful liner notes fill in some of the details of his life, and describe each of the works and the musical devices Regnart uses. The notes also put him into context by comparing and contrasting the music to that of his slightly older but better known compatriot Orlando Lassus.

This CD itself consists of two state motets, six sacred works, and the centrepiece of the disc, the Missa Super Oeniades Nymphae. The combined effect of this wonderful, timeless music and Cinquecento’s brilliant performances can only be described as therapeutic. Sound-wise, with the help of a perfect acoustic setting - it was recorded at the monastery of Kloster Pernegg in Austria - and some subtle audio engineering, the six voices of Cinquecento have produced a recording of seamless, perfectly tuned and harmonically rich vocal music. The soundstage is panoramic and deep, and each voice has an almost three-dimensional place in the mix. It’s like surround sound but with just two speakers, but sounds perfectly natural.

Listening to recordings like this is something everyone would benefit from - it’s like musical time-travel for anyone who wants it. Buy some.

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