Sumptuous sonorities, articulate text-settings that range from emphatic to meditative, and an overall cast that's both functional and grand gives some idea of the music of Spanish composer Juan de Anchieta presented on this disc. Bridging the 15th and 16th centuries, Anchieta was among the finest of the period's church composers. Neither an innovator nor noteworthy for exceptional creative gifts, he nevertheless was an excellent technician and a master of building vocal and instrumental textures to fulfilling climaxes and crafting lovely melodic material.
The Missa sine nomine, whose sections are interspersed here with plainchant and other anonymous pieces as well as a couple of short organ "elaborations", isRead more a solid liturgical work that also easily appeals on a purely visceral level--its rich combination of voices with shawm, sackbut, dulcian, and cornett really fills a room, or cathedral, with big-bodied sound. The Agnus Dei is especially beautiful. Likewise the Salve Regina is not only lovely-sounding but also shows Anchieta's command of polyphonic writing, effectively balanced with plainchant passages.
The choir and instrumental ensemble completely own this music, the male voices registering a bright, clear, ringing resonance against the deeper-hued yet vibrant winds. Internal detail is not a strong suit of this recording, nor are balances between voices and instruments always well maintained, especially in louder tutti sections, which become saturated in multiple layers of sound and reverberation. There are definite rewards here for fans of sacred choral music, not only for the pleasing effect of the music itself, but also in the opportunity to explore the work of a once-significant, still-worthy, yet nearly forgotton composer.
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less