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Guerrero: Missa Congratulamini Mihi / The Cardinall's Musick

Guerrero / Cardinalls Musick / Carwood
Release Date: 08/10/2010 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67836   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Francisco GuerreroThomas Crecquillon
Conductor:  Andrew Carwood
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Cardinall's Musick
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Cardinall’s Musick will not disappoint.

3431520.az_GUERRERO_Missa_Congratulamini_Dum.html

GUERRERO Missa Congratulamini mihi. Dum esset rex. Maria Magdalena et altera Maria. Post dies octo. Regina caeli à 4. Ave Maria. Regina caeli à 8 & Andrew Carwood, dir; The Cardinall’s Musick HYPERION CDA 67836 (65:09 Text and Translation)

Read more /> & CRECQUILLON Congratulamini mihi


This is Andrew Carwood’s first venture into Spanish music other than a useful collection of Victoria’s masses and motets ( Fanfare 23: 5). It is the first recording of a five-voice Mass on a motet of Crecquillon and at least the eighth of his 20 masses on record. Francisco Guerrero (1528–99) has certainly come to the fore since the anniversary of his death. A more significant impetus was the publication of his complete works, which had just been completed, though the first volume dated from 1955. We had no recorded masses before 1990 and no full discs devoted to him. This Mass is a remarkably fine work, as is the motet on which it is based. The motet text concerns Mary Magdalen’s visit to the empty tomb on Easter. Crecquillon’s joyfully expressive themes associated with phrases of text are reworked in the Mass, but while the motet’s extra voice in the five-part texture is a bass, Guerrero shifts the music to a brighter tonality by adding a treble at the top instead. The effect is remarkable, one that has unaccountably been denied to record collectors for too long.


Carwood has filled out the program with more Easter motets. The last two are double-choir settings of familiar texts. In contrast, Maria Magdalene et altera Maria for six voices tells the story of the visit to the empty tomb in the word’s of St. Mark’s Gospel, and Post dies octo is the story of Thomas’s faith recovered on the Sunday after Easter. This is one of the finest Guerrero discs to come this way. Among English vocal ensembles, Alistair Dixon (24:2), Peter Phillips (29:6), and Harry Christophers (32:6) have given us masses in this interpretive approach, while James O’Donnell has taken different approaches (21:3 and 32:3 for one, 23:1 for another), both a cappella and accompanied, with his choir of men and boys. I reserved my greatest affection for O’Donnell’s work on the earlier of his two discs, but Carwood has given us a program of the highest distinction. Since each of these discs offers a different Mass, they are by no means exclusive, but a newcomer might very well begin with Carwood’s new disc. It is beyond excellent.


FANFARE: J. F. Weber


Have you ever asked yourself which composers of the dim and distant past you would like to have met? Well, being a bit 'sad', as my sons say, I would love to have had a conversation or a composition lesson with Guerrero. I would have asked him about his trip to the Holy Land in 1588/9 when he was already an old man and his other consequent adventures, for example being robbed by pirates - twice. I have never found a modern copy of his biography but do recall Radio 3 asking Robert Hardy to read sections of it a decade ago, I think in two programmes. Quite a yarn it is too and the composer’s simple faith and amazement at the sights he saw have lived on with me.

In recent times Hyperion has adopted a practice in renaissance music of placing the Mass setting before the motet on which it is based. I know that one can programme a CD in any order one chooses but this practice is a little odd and it would be good to know the reason. Anyway it’s worth getting to know Crecquillon's motet Congratulamini mihi before listening to the mass which, incidentally, is one of three by Guerrero based on motets by others. The text chimes in with the concept surrounding the CD and concerns Mary Magdalene’s arrival at the tomb on Easter Morning: “Rejoice with me, all ye who love the Lord/for he whom I sought has appeared to me”. There are three elements which need to be taken on board. First the fanfare-like awakening idea. Second there’s the contrasting second verse, ‘They have taken away my Lord from the tomb” which includes a section about weeping described in a very peremptory way with some simple scalic passages. Finally the predominantly bright major-mode, well suited to the season, is used almost throughout.

The Mass is for SSATB - the motet for SATBB – and is in the usual six sections taking the Benedictus as a separate entity. Unlike the motet and the following ones it is performed two to a part. It’s debatable whether Guerrero expected to hear it like this or even, as in the motets, one to a part. It’s probably best for now not to go down that line.

It is the bright and exultant mood of the mass which really imposes itself on the listener and indeed it should do for the octave of Easter. The two soprano parts especially lift the texture as opposed to the two bass parts in the motet. The fanfaring figure is heard in the Gloria. The falling scalic passages mentioned above for “weeping” are rarely used: listen to the central ‘Et Incarnatus’ where we hear a semblance of them. The performance captures the mood brilliantly and I found myself wondering if they had ever performed the Mass live. The sopranos, Carys Lane and Cecilia Osmund, Amy Haworth and Rebecca Hickey (some heard on so many CDs of early music) are basically without noticeable vibrato but could not be mistaken for boys, A friend listening with me thought their tone quality curiously thin, I turned down the treble quite a bit and the sound warmed up. Perhaps the Fitzalan Chapel acoustic - a beautiful medieval building at the back of the parish church - is a little brittle.

The six remaining motets are headed up by two in honour of Mary Magdalene. As Andrew Carwood comments in his informative and helpful booklet notes (with full texts) these two composers “belong to the world of the madrigal” of which Guerrero wrote many very fine ones. The first Dum Esset rex for men’s voices in four parts is brief and tells of Magdalene and the jar of ointment. The joyous second Maria Magdalena et altera Maria in five parts tells of Mary and the women visiting the tomb on Easter morning. For the week following Easter and the appearance to Thomas we have the moving motet Post dies octo in five parts; curiously it omits altos.

The disc ends with two contrasting double-choir motets. The sonorous Ave Maria, a joyous setting in the major mode, contrasts with the minor mode four part Regina Caeli “Queen of Heaven Rejoice’. Each takes plainchant as its basis. This is also available on a Westminster cathedral disc (Hyperion CDA66168 ‘Treasures of the Spanish Renaissance’ with a full choir and boys singing the upper part). The booklet notes are not clear about dates for any of these pieces but Guerrero was supervising the publication of various books in 1589 and later. I feel that that the first Regina Caeli may well be an early piece whereas Post dies could be much later. Carwood writes about “the approaching style of Monteverdi especially towards the end of the first section”.

It’s marvellous that the Cardinall’s Musick took time out as it were from their vast and now widely acclaimed series of Byrd’s church music to record Guerrero. They will not disappoint.


-- Gary Higginson, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Missa "Congratulamini mihi" by Francisco Guerrero
Conductor:  Andrew Carwood
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Cardinall's Musick
2.
Congratulamini mihi by Thomas Crecquillon
Conductor:  Andrew Carwood
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Cardinall's Musick
3.
Dum esset rex by Francisco Guerrero
Conductor:  Andrew Carwood
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Cardinall's Musick
4.
Maria Magdalene by Francisco Guerrero
Conductor:  Andrew Carwood
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Cardinall's Musick
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Spain 
5.
Post dies octo by Francisco Guerrero
Conductor:  Andrew Carwood
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Cardinall's Musick
6.
Regina caeli à 4 by Francisco Guerrero
Conductor:  Andrew Carwood
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Cardinall's Musick
7.
Ave Maria by Francisco Guerrero
Conductor:  Andrew Carwood
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Cardinall's Musick
Written: pub 1570 
8.
Regina caeli à 8 by Francisco Guerrero
Conductor:  Andrew Carwood
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Cardinall's Musick

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