Josquin des Prez — Stilo Antico
The Golden Renaissance

[3.2.2021] |

Decca 4851340
Release date: 2021
Recording: July 2020, London

1. JOSQUIN des PREZ. Salve Regina a5  [7:31]
2. Anonymous. Pange, lingua, gloriósi  [0:50]

3. KYRIE  [3:20]
4. Ave Maria, Virgo Serena  [5:55]
5. GLORIA  [5:10]
6. Inviolata, integra, et casta es  [7:32]
7. CREDO  [8:33]
8. Vivrai je tousjours  [3:08]
9. El grillo  [1:41]
11. Virgo salutiferi  [8:09]
12. AGNUS DEI  [8:34]

13. VINDERS. O mors inevitabilis  [3:22]
14. JACQUET OF MANTUA. Dum vastos Adriae fluctus  [9:19]


[22.2.2021] Remarks
21 February 2021
Todd M. McComb


As noted, I'm intending to review Josquin anniversary albums this year — & that's (inevitably) going to include some that aren't really to my taste. Actually, I'd convinced myself that the new Golden Renaissance from Stile Antico could be appealing, particularly after spending time with the Brabant Ensemble album & deciding that it had a lot to offer, despite working within a set of performance choices that wouldn't really have been my own.... (Some of the singers are even in common between the two groups.) And I don't want to dwell on negativity, but I didn't enjoy this new release from "major" label Decca very much, apparently the first in a trilogy to be devoted to "Renaissance music" by the ensemble (& presumably the earliest such repertory).

That said, the choice of Missa Pange lingua is straightforward & reasonable in the sense that it's a relatively pliant setting, and so amenable to the kind of showmanship on offer here.... (Or maybe not amenable at all, given the cycle's contemplative austerity, but the counterpoint itself does offer more space than some for further flights of fancy....) So while I'd hoped for a more extroverted companion to the "nerdy" (in a positive sense) Brabant program, and was willing to accept some performance choices motivated mostly by later music, this is more in the way of the choral clichés I've lamented here for so long... the "pointless sighing" & ritardandi, moving from climax to climax with so much music seeming uninteresting in between.... In other words, there's a strongly rhetorical quality & — at least for me — it tends to scream out a typical pro-modernist (& again for me, automatically pro-imperialist, i.e. figured as triumph) message that surely dominates the thinking of the parasitic executives at the "major" media outlets....

There're still some great moments here, the famous Ave Maria ringing out, with more of Josquin's greatest motets to follow (plus some later, homage-type pieces), as well as a couple of truly bizarre secular choices (the one ubiquitous & surely inauthentic, the other obscure & stunningly unidiomatic here in its first recording...). Anyway, I've done my duty to review this. I'd truly come into it with positive feelings, hoping for a nice extrovert album (with a strong reading of the Missa Pange lingua, which does happen in spurts...), but this ends up being more in the range of ear candy. And then correspondingly (or paradoxically) ponderous when no striking effects are in play.