ALLEGRI Missa In lectulo meo. Miserere. Missa Christus resurgens
One wonders how Gregorio Allegri would have reacted to his posthumous fame. Past the initial amazement at being remembered at all, I suspect, his mirth would have turned to disgruntlement on realising that the piece to which he owes it has been so transmogrified as to misrepresent him. ‘Give the other stuff a chance!’ I hear him say (just about). Here we’re given a chance to do just that.
Allegri’s style is best described as post-Palestrinian, the favoured manner of 17th-century Rome at prayer. Though it is startling to think of this supreme style existing alongside the daring inventions of a Frescobaldi, Allegri’s Masses bespeak a solid workmanship and are enjoyable enough to sustain repeated listening. The two eight-voice Masses chosen for this recording are his most richly scored, and the motets on which they are based (one of them Allegri’s own) are also included. The inevitable Miserere is there too, and it’s rather ironic, in a recording presumably intended to present him in a way his contemporaries might have recognised, to hear it done yet again in the Atkins edition.
The Choir of King’s College London deliver performances that are secure and confident for the most part, though in the slower sections of the Masses in particular (try the ‘Et incarnatus’ of the Missa Christus resurgens) pitch and tone quality tend to falter. But their advocacy gives Allegri’s music the sympathetic hearing it undoubtedly warrants. For that, the composer might well thank them, and so can we.