GUERRERO: MISSA CONGRATULAMINI MIHI
by Geoffrey Norris (The Daily Telegraph - 13 August 2010)
Was it in Holy Trinity Church, just around the corner from the Albert Hall, that I first heard The Cardinall’s Musick give a concert? It was many years ago, but I still recall the impact of an ensemble that was deeply immersed in vocal music of the Renaissance and performed it with exceptional vitality and piquancy.
The style seemed so enlivening when compared with more dogged approaches to polyphonic texture, and somehow the sheer inventiveness and emotional force of the music breathed with a new immediacy, sensibility and vibrancy.
Since those early days – The Cardinall’s Musick was formed in 1989 – Andrew Carwood has nurtured the group to its current status as a leading exponent of Renaissance music, retaining the essential quality of individual vocal timbres that contribute to a refined, characterful mix and with a polish that is second to none.
On this latest release, they devote their programme to the works of the Spanish composer Francisco Guerrero (1528–99), one of the few musicians, perhaps, to have been captured (twice) by pirates on a sea journey from Genoa to Marseilles. That snippet of information comes from Carwood’s typically intriguing liner notes, which put the music in context and give an insight into Guerrero’s far from trouble-free life.
Nevertheless, he was immensely prolific in his home town of Seville, where he was in charge of music at the cathedral from 1574. The Missa Congratulamini mihi is based on themes from the elaborate responsory of the same name (a setting of Mary Magdalene’s rejoicing after the Resurrection) by the Franco-Flemish composer Thomas Crecquillon.
That is also here as a useful point of reference, but, much more than that, the entire disc, with various shorter pieces as complements, is captivating in its fluency and expressive power.