A Secret Labyrinth - Agricola / Van Nevel, Huelgas Ensemble

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...A must-have... I implied earlier that very little of Agricola’s sacred music has hitherto been available. In fact, this is the first ever recording to include his Mass music. Under the invented title Missa Guazzabuglio (a word meaning hotchpotch or mishmash) van Nevel has assembled individual movements from different Masses, after the fashion of his ‘La Dissection d’un Homme Arme’...

Van Nevel is easily as eccentric as Agricola ever was, and while the singers of the Huelgas Ensemble cope admirably with even his most bizarre directions, some ideas seem to be almost beyond the pale. He claims that fully vocal performance of the instrumental music is at least plausible. In the case of the six-voice Fortuna desperata (now, with at least four recordings, a staple of the Agricola repertoire) one can hardly disagree, but to hear the soprano clambering up two-and-a-half octaves in semiquavers (Dung aultre amet) forces admiration and disbelief in equal measure... The amazing thing is that the singers’ sheer athleticism and musicality lends such dotty notions an air of plausibility. More than that, they confirm the growing perception of Agricola as a composer of the very first rank. I have no hesitation in singling out [this recording] among this year’s high points.

-- Fabrice Fitch, Gramophone [9/1999}

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: SONY60760

  • UPC: 074646076026

  • Label: Sony

  • Composer: Alexander Agricola

  • Conductor: Paul van Nevel

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Huelgas Ensemble