Magazine article Gramophone

'Secret History'

Magazine article Gramophone

'Secret History'

Article excerpt

'Secret History'

Anonymous Benedicta es. Inviolata integra mater. Obsecro te Heringman Five Preludes Josquin Absalon fili mi. Benedicta es. La deploration de Johannes Ockeghem. Inviolata I. Nymphes des bois. Obsecro te. Salve regina Mouton Nesciens mater Victoria Missa Surge propera. O magnum mysterium

John Potter, Anna Maria Friman sgrs Ariel Abramovich, Lee Santana vihuelas Hille Perl va da gamba

ECM New Series (F) 481 1463 (71' * DDD * T/t)

Polyphony in the Renaissance was performed in all sorts of ways, from a profusion of voices and instruments to a single lutenist or a lone singer accompanying him or herself on a string instrument. Modern-day specialisation being what it is, the latter configuration is usually divided between two performers, but it's not often presented on disc. John Potter leads a hand-picked ensemble in an exploration of how such an approach might have sounded. The centrepiece is a Mass by Victoria, offset by a selection of motets mostly by Josquin. Usually just one voice is involved but at times Potter is joined by Anna Maria Friman.

The result is most stimulating, particulary in the Mass, where the tenor part is sung on its own. Whereas in an all vocal performance the focus can rest on the top line, here one becomes aware just how well crafted all of Victoria's lines are. In the motets, things are more mixed: where the original scoring is more generous, one loses a little detail in the vihuela part and the voices' material is a touch more constrained. …

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