A fascinating glimpse into the music of a time and place under-represented in the catalogue: two Easter Masses and one in honour of the Virgin Mary by little-known Polish late-16th and early-17th-century composers. I’m not going to make extravagant claims for the music, performances or recording, but I did very much enjoy hearing this 1996 production, now back on the market on CD and as a download. The music is very attractive—try the Sanctus and Benedictus of the Missa super ‘O Gloriosa Domina’—but hardly the equal of Palestrina, Victoria, Monteverdi or Charpentier; the singing is likewise of good workaday standard and the recording more than adequate, though I could have preferred both to be a little fuller and brighter. There’s a degree of vocal insecurity in the closing Agnus Dei of the Gorczycki, the last track of the recording, but otherwise the singing is secure enough. The booklet is informative; the English translation is perfectly comprehensible, if a trifle stilted: ‘missal cycle(s)’, for example, instead of ‘mass cycle(s)’. I have taken the Polish word pieśn (literally ‘song’) to mean ‘chant’ in the credits list.
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