Around 16 mass settings that can safely be attributed to Josquin survive intact, so the Tallis Scholars' project to record them all has now reached the half-way point. This fourth release brings together two, Missa Malheur Me Bat and Missa Fortuna Desperata, that both use secular polyphonic songs as their models, deriving their thematic material from them. The processes involved are immensely complicated, with not a morsel wasted, and the emotional and intellectual power of this music stems from that rigour, and Josquin's ability to use it to entirely personal ends. As the director of the Tallis Scholars Peter Phillips points out in his typically stimulating sleeve notes, these masses were never intended to be heard as a single experience like a classical symphony. The constituent parts would have been sung at the relevant moments in the liturgy, but because of the sheer sophistication of their organisation the sense of coherence would have bee maintained. Heard as a single span, they make an even more overwhelming impression, and these performances, scrupulously prepared by Phillips and recorded with great clarity and immediacy, are totally engrossing.
Josquin: Masses: Tallis Scholars/Philips