UPDATE 30 March 1909GMT:
I HAVE IT.
There is included a DVD (Region 0) which has more audio in surround sound and a documentary on the recording.
“But Father! But Father!”, you are surely saying. “You mentioned sackbuts. Where are the sackbuts? Are there really sackbuts?”
I’ll give yah sackbuts!
There are also lots of shawms and viols. And don’t forget the lirone!
And I love the fact that this was recorded in a church in Tooting (London) … yes Tooting… not far from where I usually stay when I am in those parts.
For your “Just Too Cool” file this is in from Reuters:
“Lost” 450-year-old mass soars on British charts
By Michael Roddy
LONDON (Reuters) – A sumptuous first recording of a long-lost 450-year-old Italian Renaissance mass written for 40 different vocal parts has soared onto British pop charts a week after its release. [I am reminded of the incredible concert I heard recently in NYC of music associated with the Sarum liturgy. Overwhelming waves of holy sound.]
The recording by British vocal group I Fagiolini [The String Beans] of the little-known Alessandro Striggio‘s 1566 mass for 40 voices [OOH-RAH!] — most masses are written for four — made its debut at number 68 on the pop charts, above Bon Jovi, George Harrison and Eminem.
It was number two on the classical charts, just behind Dutch violinist waltz master Andre Rieu.
“We really worked hard so that there could be a properly magnificent and extravagant sound world for the piece to revel in,” I Fagiolini’s conductor and founder Richard Hollingworth, 44, who thinks the mass has a “mesmeric” quality, told Reuters in a telephone interview on Sunday. [“mesmeric”… that’s “hypnotic” for residents of Columbia Heights. But I bet it doesn’t make you go blank!]
“This is not the grainy, black-and-white film, this is the full Hollywood Technicolor. I think that’s why it works so well…it’s like a kind of aural kaleidoscope.”
The mass was performed in several major European cities when it was written but had been mis-catalogued at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris where it was rediscovered a few years ago by musicologist Davitt Moroney, and given its first modern performance at the BBC Proms in London in 2007. [BTW… a shameless request to friends in or around London. I would very much like to go to the closing of the Proms sometime… perhaps this year?]
I Fagiolini and their label Decca Classics, a part of the Universal music group, spared no expense on the recording. It uses five choirs and a panoply of period instruments, from trombone-like sackbuts to the 11-stringed lirone, a cello precursor, as well as lutes, recorders and Renaissance strings. [If it has to be an instrumental Mass, it really ought to have lirones and sackbuts.]
The instruments play lines of music that would otherwise be sung, which Hollingworth said was accepted practice at the time.
The CD release includes a DVD which offers the Striggio mass, plus another 40-part Striggio motet, and English composer Thomas Tallis’s 40-part “Spem in Alium” — written after Striggio’s works, and possibly inspired by them — in surround sound, plus a documentary about the making of the recording.
Striggio, who lived from 1536/7 to 1592, was a court composer to the Medici family in Florence and would have written the mass in 40 parts because, as Hollingworth put it, the Medicis liked to “make a big stink and money wasn’t a problem.”
Musical events at the time included the use of “cloud machines” on which performers descended to the stage, costumes and oil lamps to create special visual effects — “and finally you would hear the music,” Hollingworth said.
Read the rest there.
This was the era of the Counter-Reformation, when great “theatrical” thrones and sets were constructed in great “theatrical” churches such as the Chiesa Nuova in Rome for Exposition for the rapidly developing Forty Hours Devotion. Confraternities for adoration were springing up and music was written to accompany devotions and Mass. It was an astounding explosion of Faith-outward inculturation which shaped an age’s art.
I’m putting this one on my wishlist! [UPDATE! It had it on the wishlist and someone, I don’t know who, sent it to me. THANK YOU! It is amazing.]