Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Missa Cantate
& Verbum caro facto est .
Gabrieli Consort/Paul McCreech with Salisbury Cathedral Boy Choristers/Richard Seal
DGG Archiv 457 658-2 [81 mins!]
  Amazon UK

01. Procession Before The Third Mass Of Christmas: Descendit De Celis
02. Antiphon: Hodie Christus Natus Est
03. Third Mass Of Christmas: Introit: Puer Natus Est Nobis
04. Kyrie: Deus Creator Omnium
05. Gloria: Gloria In Excelsis Deo 0
6. Collect: Dominus Vobiscum...Oremus. Concede Quesumus
07. Lesson: Lectio Ysaie Prophete
08. Epistle: Lectio Epistole Beati Pauli Apostoli
09. Gradual: Viderunt Omnes Fines Terre
10. Alleluia: Alleluia. Dies Santificatus Illuxit Nobis
11. Sequence: Celeste Organum Hodie Sonuit In Terra
12. Gospel: Dominus Vobiscum...Initium Sancti Evangelii
13. Credo: Credo In Umum Deum
14. Offertory: Dominus Vobiscum...Tui Sunt Celi
15. Secret: Oremus. Oblata Domine Munera/Preface: Dominus Vobiscum...Sursum...
16. Sanctus: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus
17. Benedictus: Benedictus, Qui Venit
18. Pater Noster: Per Omnia Secula Seculorum
19. Agnus Dei: Agnus Dei, Qui Tollis
20. Communion: Viderunt Omnes Fines Terre/Postcommunion: Dominus Vobiscum...
21. Verbum Caro Factum Est

Sarum (Salisbury) was the centre of English traditional church worship during the 15 & 16 centuries and this CD recreates a service according to the Sarum Rite, with bells and processions to musical accompaniment. The Kyrie is expanded with elaborate invocations and petitions. In the Offertory as recorded in Salisbury Cathedral there is even a section entitled Secret - it seems to be silent, but if you turn up the volume control you can hear the celebrants intoning sotto voce! For musician listeners the meat of the unusually comprehensive recorded sequence will be the Third Mass for Christmas.

John Sheppard (c.1515-1558) has latterly become appreciated as one of the great composers of the period, with a voice of his own. Missa Cantate for six voices is the most elaborate of his five settings, scored to span a range of over three octaves and with extended melismatic passages. In the Sanctus there are some very striking dissonances. His motet Verbum caro facto est incorporates chant against complex counterpoint, arriving at a final chord - 'one of the most thrilling moments in the entire repertoire' (Sally Dunkley).

The cathedral acoustic makes this production stronger on atmosphere than clarity of part writing; sounding a little confused on my loudspeakers but splendid on earphones. Non-specialists may wish to use the track selection capability to skip some of the chant and programme the main music, which totals 32 minutes (26 for the Mass, 6 for Verbum caro facto est) out of a generous 81 total.

Devoted care in preparation, backed by searching scholarship, is evident in the three introductory essays, including descriptions of the Sarum Rite, full background information about Sheppard & his Missa Cantate and an explanation of the unusual pronunciation - English Latin as Sheppard would have used. Whilst for myself this CD would not be a prime purchase choice, it is unique in offering a valuable insight into liturgical practice at the time of its composition, and I have appreciated the opportunity to listen to it.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: - The UK's Biggest Video Store Concert and Show tickets
Musicians accessories
Click here to visit