Duarte Lobo Sacred Choral Works
Casting the net of their repertoire ever wider The Tallis Scholars have produced a distinguished recording of two Masses by the Portuguese composer Duarte Lobo. His Missa Vox clamantis, probably based on some unidentified motet of the same name, is sung with the Scholars' customary ease and excellence, with aptly-chosen tempos sensitive phrasing and well-judged vocal balance. The third Kyrie rises to a powerful climax of intensity, resolutely avoiding, here as elsewhere, a certain blandness of perfection which can sometimes become a trap for a choir of this calibre. Indeed, there's not a trace of blandness, but welcome vigour, particularly in the Sanctus, and some delicately responsive singing in the two Agnus Dei settings.
The Requiem Mass is a particularly fine example of an alternatim composition, that is with chant and polyphony intimately intertwined. Lobo's polyphonic sections are sung with dignity and control. The chant sections do not, however reflect this decorum, chiefly because of the excessive speed with which they are sung. There is one outstanding exception, though, which I was absolutely delighted to hear, and I was as surprised by it as it was unexpected. It occurs late in the Mass, in the Communion Lux aeterna, where the sopranos set the tone, style and speed of the chant sections, culminating in their compelling, measured, almost ecstatic rendering of the verse ''Requiem …''. This is immediately answered by polyphony of matching strength and emotion. I cannot stress enough that such a performance points to what alternatim is all about: the chant is an integral part of the structure. There is plenty of evidence in support of such a style of singing of later chant and I cannot imagine why a choir of such professional expertise as The Tallis Scholars can ever allow itself to do otherwise having once discovered understood and achieved this near perfect accord between chant and polyphony.'