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Lassus: Lagrime di San Pietro / Jackson, Studio de Musique Ancienne de Montreal

Lasso / Jackson / Studio De Musique Ancienne
Release Date: 09/28/2010 
Label:  Atma Classique   Catalog #: 2509   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Orlando de Lassus
Conductor:  Christopher Jackson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Studio for Ancient Music Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

LASSUS Lagrime di San Pietro Christopher Jackson, dir; Studio de Musique Ancienne de Montréal ATMA ACD2 2509 (52:48 Text and Translation)

LASSUS Lagrime di San Pietro. Melancholia Michael Procter, dir; Ens Hofkapelle CHRISTOPHORUS CHR 77255 Read more (76:36 Text and Translation)

LASSUS Lagrime di San Pietro Livio Picotti, dir; Capella Ducale Venetia CPO 999 862-2 (56:53 Text and Translation)

We have not heard Lassus’s final work, a profound series of 20 madrigals and a concluding motet, since Bo Holten’s version ( Fanfare 19:4). The texts describe the apostle’s sorrow at the thought of denying Christ on the night before the crucifixion. Christopher Jackson’s new version has just arrived, but two intervening discs need to be considered here, for each has something to offer. In contrast to Holten’s ensemble of three voices to a part and Paul van Nevel’s two voices to a part (17:4), these all use one voice to a part, as Anthony Rooley (7:5) and Philippe Herreweghe (18:1) did. (Jackson lists 10 singers without indicating whether they take turns.) He renders the melancholy works more brightly than most, but the singing is appealing.

Michael Procter alone uses adult male voices, bringing the pitch down a whole tone. He has by far the liveliest tempos of any version, consistently 20 to 30 percent faster than other versions. This leaves room to add a substantial filler, and a valuable addition it is, for Melancholia has not been recorded before. Like the major work, this is a cyclic work organized by modal relationships (as the Penitential Psalms also were). A set of 13 aphorisms on life and death, as the subtitle puts it, the brief texts are scriptural or devotional. The three non-scriptural aphorisms have not been traced to their origin. It is a first recording because it is only recently that Procter, following the initiative of Peter Bergquist, has published the pieces as a unified set. Procter also suggests that Leonhard Lechner composed his similarly titled work, Sprüche von Leben und Tod (14:4), with awareness of Lassus’s composition, though the two works are only superficially similar.

Like Paul van Nevel (17:4), Picotti (whose pitch is midway between the other two heard here) uses an instrumental ensemble to accompany the singing. Since they play mostly recorders and gambas, they do not overpower the voices (van Nevel added cornetts and sackbuts). As accompanied singing goes in the works of Lassus, this is as mild as it gets. Given van Nevel’s tempos, the slowest of all, this is easily recommended to those who like it that way. So in the end we have three different approaches to the music. If Jackson appeals to me today, the others are not far behind.

FANFARE: J. F. Weber
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Works on This Recording

Lagrime di San Pietro by Orlando de Lassus
Conductor:  Christopher Jackson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Studio for Ancient Music Choir
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century 

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