Gaude plurimum, Missa Corona Spinea, In pace.
The Sixteen Harry Christophers.
Hyperion Helios CDH55051
USA around £6
The Missa Corona Spinea evidently found its inspiration from the celebrated
Feast of the Crown of Thorns, an important date in the religious calendar
of those days - although there is no concrete evidence to support this.
It is very much in the mould of Taverner's advanced masses missing the Kyrie
but finely elaborated in its Gloria and Credo which last approximately ten
minutes each. The writing for six part choir is a free fantasia on the
modulations of the chant prevalent in 15th century Britain but Taverner's
richness and scoring for multiple voices is indeed quite exhilarating. It
is also interesting to note that this mass has two Agnus Dies, with the latter
providing a rather intimate picture of this sublime prayer for peace. As
has become the norm in this repertoire, The Sixteen sing with graceful mastery
throughout and the sheer versatility of the solo members provide the listener
with unalloyed enjoyment especially in the more overtly virtuosic pieces
of this Mass. 'Gaude plurimum' is also quite beautiful, a thirteen minute
motet which starts slowly but builds up in massive tonal shifts that culminate
in a splendid exercise in counterpoint and six voice variations. The shorter
'In pace' is no less memorable for its pensive but deeply spiritual nature.
The brilliant edifice of Grunewald's Isenheim altarpiece adorns the front
cover making the appearance of the CD extremely striking thus adding to the
allure of this competitively priced release.