Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Amazing Lagrime

About a year ago, someone ran across a gorgeous 16th century illustration of Di Lasso and it was thought that this would make a great cover for Sacred Music.

And so began the issue, dedicated to Di Lasso, that is now in its final stages of preparation. It is packed with wonderful essays on the life and music of this remarkable composer, who had been neglected even in preconciliar times but who is now experiencing a great resurgence.

As the managing editor, I used the opportunity to go through many scores and recordings in preparation for review (and so that I could have some idea about what the authors are writing about, which is, hmm, rather necessary for a managing editor).

One of my favorite compositions of Di Lasso has long been the "Lagrime di San Pietro," the composer's last composition, written in 1594 and dedicated to Clement VIII. It's like the B-minor Mass or a symphony by Mahler, something that it would take a lifetime to get to know. Also, we schola directors are oddly interested in pieces such as this that we could never conceive of actually using in liturgy (at least not yet).

My recording I had for years was by Philippe Herreweghe, and wonderful it is. However, in preparation for this issue, I also acquired a recording by Michael Procter, director of a schola in Germany and an accomplished scholar-musician who writes often for Sacred Music.

Well, I'll cut to the chase. This recording of Lagrime is a revelation. By comparison to others, the group is highly focussed on the text and infuses the performance with a passion for the meaning and emotion behind the entire masterpiece. I can highly recommend it to anyone. But prepare: it is indeed a lifetime study to appreciate the depth of this song cycle. As an extra bonus, this CD includes a second cycle called Meloncholia, which are Di Lasso's music about the end of life. Together, they make ideal Lenten listening.

Procter has three articles in the forthcoming issue (Spring 2007)

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