Magnificat - Rogier: Missae Sex - Audiophile Audition
Anyone wishing for a little background info on Philippe Rogier can look to my previous review of the second disc in Linn's admirable Rogier series by these same forces. My reaction here is much the same as there-this is a basically unknown Flemish composer who worked in the Spanish court, was prolific, lived a very short life (about 35 years), and is a top-notch composer of great worth in the liturgical realm.
Here, as opposed to the previous two discs (the first one not reviewed in these pages) we see examples taken from his Missa Sex, a book of masses published in Madrid in 1598, and the primary source for his music that survived. There is also a corresponding book of motets published in Naples in 1595 that serves the same purpose for that genre. Here Rogier shows himself a parody artist of the first rank. Parody masses were quite common in his lifetime, even expected, and considered the highest form of tribute. In this case the Missa Inclita stirps Jesse (for the feast of St. Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary) takes its inspiration from the motet of Jacobus Clemens, using the opening of the motet almost verbatim in the opening of the Kyrie. A different approach is used for the Missa Philippus Secundus Rex Hispaniae, instead of using a preexisting work the cantus firmus is derived from the solmization syllables of the vowels of the title, a melody created from the vowels of the words. We don't know if it was performed, but the king was pleased to support it-it is the first work in the Missa Sex. Rogier twists and turns this melody every which way he can in a tour-de-force of sublime proportions. Also there is an interspersion of the organ music of Antonio de Cabezon, one an Ave maris stella occurring within the second mass, and another serving as a bridge between the two masses, connected-in a 3 steps away from Kevin Bacon manner-to a work by Clemens.
The sound of St. George's Chesterton, Cambridge, is beautifully set down on this finely wrought audiophile disc, and it, as well as the whole series, is warmly encouraged on all.