This album stands as a monument to a particular space, place and time: the Chapel Royal of Linlithgow Palace, as it once stood, at the turn of the sixteenth century. Now a ruined shell, it was once the great pleasure palace of the kings and queens of Scotland, and the birthplace of James V and Mary, Queen of Scots. The building once resounded to music sung by the skilled musicians of the itinerant chapel royal, surrounded by magnificent decorations and sculptures. Almost none of this—the music or the building, save its walls—survives.
What we do have, though, is the famous Carver Choirbook, from which all the polyphonic works on this recording, with one exception, are taken. Our reconstruction of the palace focuses instead on a slightly earlier period, before the building of an organ within the chapel and the consequent changes to its internal layout. The centrepiece of our recording is a magnificent Mass cycle, found within a layer of the choirbook containing—alongside Dufay’s Missa L’homme armé—works both anonymous and from the mid-to-late fifteenth century.
Andrew Kirkman offers yet another casket of rediscovered musical gems. The main work here is the Missa Horrendo (the ‘Catherine Wheel Mass’). Its endlessly unfolding melodic contours are challenging but are sung here with a magical poise. The singers conclude with a beautifully constrained rendering of a Magnificat and Cornysh’s lovely Ave Maria.’
– BBC Music Magazine