This is an impressive release - from the beautiful, eye-catching and appropriate cover, through to the rather gorgeous music and excellent performances.
Philippe Rogier is the predominant composer featured, although Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina puts in an appearance about half-way through the disc, with his motet Domine In Virtute Tua. Far from being a filler, this is an interesting additional inclusion. The fascinating juxtaposition of the music of Palestrina with that of Rogier allows for a direct appreciation of the influence of the imitative polyphony of the Roman School upon Rogier’s music. It also makes clear the more polychordal characteristics of his work which appears Venetian-influenced.
The pieces included by Rogier range from substantial masses (the Missa Domine Dominus Noster and Missa Domine In Virtute Tua), through to shorter works: the opening motet Domine Dominus Noster and the two responsories (for Epiphany and Christmas day respectively) which conclude the disc, Videntes Stellam Magi and Verbum Caro Factum Est.
All are given committed and intelligent performances, with Magnificat and His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts under director Philip Cave keeping a clear and focused sound throughout. An admirable balance is also captured between the voices and instruments. The overall resultant sound is translucent enough to allow a three-dimensional appreciation of the texture - an important factor for music of this period. Especially gratifying is the fact that very good account is taken of the textural variations, such as in the Agnus Dei of the Missa Domine Dominus Noster.
The beautifully-presented booklet contains interesting historical and musicological notes as well as detailed descriptions of each of the works featured. The result is an entirely laudable release, in its combination of interesting and fine works which will be unfamiliar to many; an extremely high standard of music-making, excellent sound and superb presentation.