Willaert: Missa Mente Tota; Motets, etc | Classical CD review

Cinquecento
(Hyperion)

In the history of renaissance polyphony, the Flemish composer Adrian Willaert (c1490-1562) is a kind of missing link, a massive influence across Europe in the period between the death of Josquin and the rise of Palestrina. Willaert exported the Flemish style from the Low Countries to Italy, eventually taking charge of the choir at St Mark's in Venice, and establishing the tradition of antiphonal choral music there, while his pupils included Andrea Gabrieli. The main work on Cinquecento's disc, though, dates from well before Willaert's period in Venice; the Missa Mente Tota seems to have been composed when he first arrived in Rome in around 1515. It's based on a part of a motet-cycle by Josquin (which Cinquecento sing as a prelude) and seems to have been designed to showcase Willaert's talent as a contrapuntalist – each section of the mass contains a double canon. Five motets follow the mass, together with a motet in Willaert's memory composed by another pupil, Cipriano de Rore. It's a beautifully conceived and immaculately realised sequence, sung with simple directness by the six male voices of Cinquecento in a nicely churchy, but never overpowering, acoustic.

Contributor

Andrew Clements

The GuardianTramp

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