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Obrecht - Missa Maria zart | Challenge Classics CC72933

Obrecht - Missa Maria zart

£14.11

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Label: Challenge Classics

Cat No: CC72933

Barcode: 0608917293326

Format: Hybrid SACD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Vocal/Choral

Release Date: 14th April 2023

Gramophone Editor's Choice

Contents

About

Jacob Obrecht's Missa Maria zart is an extraordinary work, as it is likely the longest extant Mass of the Renaissance, taking an hour to perform, and also in the more general meaning of the word.

The work is recognised as one of the most ambitious artistic creations of its time; some have claimed that it defies description. The director of Cappella Pratensis, Stratton Bull mentioned his interest in the complexities of Renaissance mensural notation and the difficulties that modern-day ensembles sometimes experience in interpreting it. Although several recordings of this Mass already existed, few if any had succeeded in doing justice to its subtle system of mensuration signs and use of notation generally. A symposium was held in 2018 and the resulting performance duly took place, but plans for a recording were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This had the welcome if unintended consequence of permitting several other live performances before the recording sessions in September 2022: the interpretation that Cappella Pratensis commits to disc is well 'lived in'.

Jacob Obrecht was born in Ghent between 1457 and 1459. His career included a string of posts as choirmaster in Northern France and the Low Countries (Cambrai, Bruges, Bergen op Zoom, Antwerp). He died in Ferrara (of plague) in May or June 1505.

It is not known when the Missa Maria zart was composed but there are good reasons for thinking it one of Obrecht's very last Mass cycles. Even by Obrecht's standards Maria zart is unusually complex and inventive. Given the general agreement that Maria zart was probably commissioned for the Imperial court at Innsbruck, Cappella Pratensis uses the Germanic pronunciation that would have been in use at the time.

Reviews

It was described by my colleague Fabrice Fitch as Ďone of Renaissance musicís hidden gemsí, but I think itís now true to say that this Mass is finally out in the open. This new release from Ensemble Pratensis is one of those rare, landmark albums that offers a striking alternative performance of a piece already afforded a major entry in the catalogue... As such we now have a range of approaches to help us know better this extraordinary polyphonic behemoth. Obrechtís music is mesmeric... This new release is a happy marriage of musicality and musicology.  Edward Breen
Gramophone June 2023
Cappella Pratensis have created a unique new manuscript to get even closer to the heart of Obrechtís Missa Maria zart, the longest Renaissance Mass setting.
Gramophone May 2023
There are grand, spectacular gestures that you donít get in other pieces, really long sequences that build over huge spans and are really enjoyable to sing. ... itís a frigginí masterpiece!  Stratton Bull
Gramophone May 2023

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