Hassler: Motets & Organ Works / Böcker, Cordes, Et Al

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Lovers of high-Renaissance polyphony will find much to enjoy with this new CPO release of works by the German composer Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612). Like his contemporary and friend Giovanni Gabrieli, Hassler's advanced use of polychoral techniques (which would acheive ultimate fruition in the settings of Heinrich Schütz) earned him great fame and recognition in his day. While it's unlikely that Hassler ever heard his music performed in a program like this, one that intersperses various combinations of solo, instrumental, and choral works, the performances nevertheless provide a fascinating musical glimpse into the work of this rarely recorded master.

The opening Cantate Domino, scored for three four-part instrumental and vocal choirs, is one of the most ambitious works offered. While certainly stylistically indebted to Gabrieli, the lighter textures of the vocal ensembles recall Orlando di Lasso and later Praetorius. Director Manfred Cordes articulates his forces to great effect, striking a wonderful balance between vocal and instrumental interplay and simultaneous delineation. Imagine Gabrieli for the chapel instead of the cathedral and you'll get an idea.

Equally intimate yet sumptuous is Hassler's Canzon duodecimi toni, scored for two four-part instrumental choirs. Again, comparisons with Gabrieli are inevitable, enough so that I imagine most listeners would believe this piece to be composed by the Italian master if not told otherwise--it's that good. And the same could be said of nearly every other composition included in this very generous 70-plus-minute program. To my knowledge, all but one of the works here receive their premiere recordings; the exception is the Ad Dominum which Philippe Herreweghe and the Ensemble Vocal Européen de la Chapelle Royale previously recorded on a long-deleted Harmonia Mundi issue (901401). As usual with CPO, the overall presentation is stunning, the notes are informative, and the sound is exemplary. More please!
--John Greene, ClassicsToday.com

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 999723-2

  • UPC: 761203972326

  • Label: CPO

  • Composer: Hans Leo Hassler

  • Conductor: Manfred Cordes

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Weser Renaissance

  • Performer: Barbara Hofmann, Bernd Schleyer, Birigit Bahr, Christine Moran, Clementine Jasdinsky, Elfriede Stahmer, Harry Geraerts, Harry Van Berne, Harry Van der Kamp, Jörg Jacobi, Martin Böcker, Matthias Sprinz, Ralf Popken, Susanne Rydén, Thomas Ihlenfeldt, William Dongois, Yuji Fujimoto