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Ingegneri Vol2 TOCC0630
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Marc’Antonio INGEGNERI (c. 1535-1592)
Volume Two: Missa Voce mea a 5
Historic Brass of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama/Jeremy West
Choir of Girton College, Cambridge/Gareth Wilson
rec. 2021, St. George’s Church, Chesterton, Cambridge, UK
TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0630 [62:44]

The choir of Girton College, Cambridge now directed by Gareth Wilson are highly imaginative in their renaissance music discoveries. Marc’Antonio Ingegneri from Cremona has been almost universally overlooked. His main claim to fame: he was one of Monteverdi’s first teachers. The passion and drama in the sacred works on this disc – a Mass and eight motets – clearly washed off on the pupil. It seems incredible that these are premiere recordings.

But why have we heard so little of this composer? In The Monteverdi Companion (Faber and Faber 1969), Denis Arnold says that Ingegneri was of “extraordinary ability” but “he was not an outstanding wordly success”, that “Cremona was no great centre of music making”, and that “barely a dozen of his pieces were included in the popular anthologies published in his lifetime”.

This is the choir’s second disc of Ingegneri’s music. I missed the first disc, which featured the Missa Laudate Pueri Dominum. The releases coincide nicely with a recent publication of The Sacred music of Marc’Antonio Ingegneri by Carlos Rodriguez Otero, a Lay clerk at St. John’s, Cambridge. He wrote the first of the two fascinating, long booklet essays.

The five-part parody mass Missa Voce mea published in 1573 confirms the composer’s genius and originality. Ingegneri once enjoyed friendship with the great madrigalist Cipriano da Rore (c. 1515-1565). The motet Voce mea, once thought to be da Rore’s work, is now attributed to the very little known Paolo Animuccia. The text of this emotional and dark motet begins thus: “With my voice I cried out to the Lord”. The booklet essay points out the clever technicalities behind Ingegneri’s use of the material, and the way it is weaved throughout the textures. The melancholic mood is maintained. There are many felicitous moments of aching suspensions and passionate part-writing. One of them is the Crucifixus in the Credo, with its glorious ending which sounds magnificent with the brass doubling all parts. The Sanctus is, likewise, powerfully uplifting in its Hosannas.

The brass never dominates, and adds variety when playing in passages with some of the lower voices removed. The balance is always beautifully judged, and the sonorous and warm tone of the Welsh brass players is ideal. They have several opportunities to play alone, as in the second Agnus dei and in the motets Domine exaudi, O pretiosum and O quam suavis. It seems that especially in his polychoral music – such as the motets Beata viscera and Hodie assumpta est – Ingegneri expected instrumental participation, and even let the wind instruments to play a motet alone. It is often said that the cornett is the instrument next to the human voice in timbre. In instrumental playing of such eloquence as here, I certainly agree.

Of the other motets, the setting of Ave verum Corpus seems to have been the choir’s favourite. It is glorious and emotionally powerful. Ingegneri does not exactly go in for word painting in his motets. He captures the overall mood and digs deeply into the essence of the text, communicataing its profondest emotional qualities.

The other booklet essay, by Gareth Wilson, explains the difficulties surrounding the planning and recording of this disc; the choir’s plans had to change every few weeks due to Covid infections and restrictions. There is a picture of the socially distanced choir at the recording seession. Another difficulty was the addition of the nine wind players, and so more Covid threat.

The recording was made in an acoustic I am familiar with, ideal for choral works and used by many choirs. All texts are clearly shown and perfectly translated.

The fine fresh-voiced choir seems completely devoted to this composer. They sing with the belief that this is great music. On the evidence of one recording, I am not sure if Ingegneri is a very great composer but he far exceeds such contemporaries as Andrea Gabrieli, Claudio Merulo and – in my view, although controversially – Palestrina.

Gary Higginson

Contents
Marc’Antonio INGEGNERI (c. 1535-1592)
1. Exultate Deo [2:38]
Paolo ANIMUCCIA (d. 1569)
2. Voce mea [3:56]
Marc’Antonio INGEGNERI
3. Missa Voce mea a 5: Kyrie Eleison [4:00]
4. Domine exaudi [2:55]
5. Missa Voce mea: Gloria [5:42]
6. Beata viscera [2:55]
7. Missa Voce mea: Credo [9:27]
8. Vidi montes [3:08]
9. O pretiosum [4:07]
10. Missa Voce mea: Sanctus - Benedictus [5:08]
11. O Quam suavis [4:42]
12. Missa Voce mea: Agnus dei [5:59]
13. Ave verum corpus [4:00]
14. Hodie assumpta est Maria [3:25]




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