LOBO Misas 'Prudentes Virgines'. Beata Dei Genitrix
Alonso Lobo is principally known today for his motet Versa est in luctum, but the rest of his output isn’t so well represented, so this new recording of two of his Masses is very welcome, especially in performances as attractive as these. They are based on motets by his mentor Francisco Guerrero, which are themselves well worth hearing. Lobo treats his materials comparatively freely, more often preferring allusion and subtle reworking to quotation. He allows himself the odd technical party-piece but weaves it so unobtrusively into the musical fabric that he could hardly have been accused of showing off: a composer calmly conscious of his worth, one imagines.
I warmly welcomed La Grande Chapelle’s previous recording (12/12), which was on a much more lavish scale, combining many voices and instruments. Here they are reduced to just five or six singers (following the scorings of the two Masses) with a portative organ accompanying them in the Missa Beata Dei genitrix, whose richer, antiphonal scoring contrasts nicely with the more contrapuntally conceived Missa Prudentes virgines – though the former (and certainly its model) might have been taken just a touch faster at times. In this pared-down guise the ensemble sounds rather more English, dare one say, than they did before (albeit that their membership is multinational), though at times a pleasing stridency breaks through (try the call ‘Ecce sponsus meus’ in Guerrero’s Prudentes virgines). An extended, thoughtful essay provides a useful introduction to the composer and his music