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It is undisputed that Orlandus Lassus, aka “Orlando de Lassus” or “Orlando de Lasso,“ was one of the greatest composers of the High Renaissance and certainly the preeminent one of the Franco-Flemish School. Along with Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594) and Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611), Lassus (either 1530 or 1532-1594) was one of the masters of polyphonic vocal writing and easily the most prolific of the group. Roughly 2000 (!) compositions are attributed to him, the earliest of which dates from the 1550’s. I found it interesting that his entire oeuvre was apparently comprised of vocal music; i.e., chansons, motets, masses, madrigals, lieder, and the like. It’s too bad that Lassus’ works are comparatively “under recorded.”

At any rate, I just finished listening to a superb CD from 1989 which was devoted to his music and performed by the excellent Tallis Scholars, under the direction of Peter Phillips (1953-). It was released by their own Gimell record label in 2002 and entitled, “Missa Osculetur me.” This 49-minute CD included seven Lassus motets, many of which utilized the “double choir” antiphonal technique of two groups of eight singers, with each group consisting of  soprano, countertenor,  tenor, and bass voices.

These performances are so assured that it would be difficult to imagine a better result. This excellent recording was done at the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Salle, Norfolk, England. It always helps to have church acoustics for this type of music!

Whether or not this kind of music is your “thing,” I defy anyone to say it isn’t beautiful. By the way, during the mid- 1990’s, I attended a live concert performance by the Tallis Scholars at UCLA. Of course, they were excellent.

 

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