Orlando di LASSO (c.1534-1564)
Biographie Musicale, Vol.2
La Gloire de la Musique de Bavarie (I) - le Temps de la faveur
Missa On me l’a dict: Gloria [2:24]
Vous qui aymes les dames [1:33]
Si vous n’estes en bon poinct [2:00]
Un doulx nenny [0:39]
Quanta invidia ti porto avara terra [3:17]
Se si alto pon gir mie stanche rime [2:09]
O Mors, quam amara [4:17]
Surge propera amica mea [3:43]
Ave color vini clari [4:30]
Chi passa per sta strad’a e non sospira [2:39]
Tant vous alles doulce Guillemette [1:22]
Magnificat supra Tant vous alles doulx [7:27]
Vatter unser [2:32]
Im Lant zu Wirtenberg [3:18]
Frölich zu sein ist mein manier [3:18]
Res neque ab infernis [3:06]
Sidus ex claro veniens Olympo [3:25]
Edite Caesareo Boiorum [4:34]
Monika Mauch (soprano), Michael Mantaj (bass)
Singer Pur
rec. Himmelsfahrtskirche, Munich, Germany, April 2012. DDD
CD contained in hardback booklet with texts and translations.
When I reviewed the Musique en Wallonie recording of music for the feast of St Charles (Emperor Charlemagne), O Rex Orbis (MEW1267 - review) and again when I reviewed the first volume of the musical biography of Lassus on the same label (MEW1158, Download News 2013/3), I referred to the second volume of that Lassus series, MEW1268, and indicated that a review of it had been written and would be appearing soon. As Singer Pur feature on the recording, I searched for the review, intending to add a reference to it in reviewing their 3-disc recording of Adrian Willaert’s motets (Oehms OC835 - review by Johan van Veen; also due for review in Download News 2013/12) only to discover that it seems to have disappeared without trace - I can find no reference in Outlook to having sent the review off; I can’t find it in my Documents folder or on Skydrive, either, so it looks as if I never wrote it.
MEW1268, volume II of what I take to be a projected series, contains works from Lassus’s earliest period at the Bavarian court of Duke Albrecht, a period in which Lassus rapidly rose from a humble chorister to Kapellmeister, at first in an acting capacity, but soon after officially.
As in the Willaert, Singer Pur are ably assisted by guest singers and in this recording by Cristoph Eglhuber on renaissance guitar; if anything the performances are preferable to those of Willaert, with the animation that I found very slightly lacking there. Perhaps that’s a response to the fact that most of the music is set to secular texts; even the extract from the Song of Songs, Surge propera amica mea, track 8, though sung at feasts of the Virgin Mary, is actually a love poem - ‘arise my beloved, hasten and come away’. Just don’t expect the kind of animation that you would find from the likes of Jordi Savall, but the opening Gloria goes at a pace that will give you an idea of the whole collection. I’d like to hear Singer Pur in the whole of the Mass from which this is taken, Missa On me l’a dict, not currently available, nor do I recall it ever having been recorded.
Some of the texts are rather silly - track 4 is about the inevitability of getting fat - and the final work enshrines the kind of encomium to Lassus’ patron which now looks frankly distasteful - but read Thomas More’s Latin address to Henry VIII on his accession and you’ll see that such toadying was necessary if you were ambitious. In any case Lassus’ music rises well above the words.
Slightly confusingly, whereas the French original notes and the English translation give the composer’s name as Roland de Lassus, a part-Latinisation of his name Roland de Lasse, the German translation gives the Italianised version by which he was also commonly known, Orlando di Lasso. The facsimile of the 1579 edition of his third Book of Madrigals on the facing page offers another variant, half Latin, half Italian: Orlando di Lassus. Your native name just wasn’t enough to shine as an international composer in the sixteenth century: John Cooper transmuted his base English metal to Giovanni Coperario.
Not all dealers seem to stock the CD, but do search for it online. The performances can be downloaded from amazon.co.uk for £7.49 or from amazon.com for $8.99, but it’s worth paying a little more for the CD which is housed in a lavish booklet with notes, texts and translations: £15.99 from amazon.co.uk, $15.99 from amazon.com; currently reduced from $18.99 to $16.99 from arkivmusic.com.
I wouldn’t recommend either of Musique en Wallonie’s first two volumes of Lassus’ musical biography to beginners. They would be better served by, say, the Naxos recording of two of his masses (8.550842, Oxford Camerata/Summerly [68:25] - download available from classicsonline.com or stream from Naxos Music Library, both with pdf booklet) or the Missa osculetur me and motets (Gimell CDGIM018* - from gimell.com or stream from Naxos Music Library). Experienced Lassus fans should find much that is new to them to enjoy in this second volume in particular when performances, presentation and recording are so good.
* The Mass alone is better value on two-for-one The Tallis Scholars sing Flemish Masters (CDGIM211).
Brian Wilson 

Not for beginners but established Lassus fans should find much to enjoy when performances, presentation and recording are so good.

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