PALESTRINA Missa Confitebor tibi Domine
This is really two quite separate discs. One has the 28 voices of the Yale Schola Cantorum, performing unaccompanied in Christ Church, New Haven, CT; and the other has the cornett and organ of Bruce Dickie and Liuwe Tamminga in the Basilica of S Martino, Bologna. The insert confusingly gives David Hill as director of both; and it gives no hint that two of the pieces Bruce Dickie plays are literal renderings of Giovanni Bassano’s published arrangements of Palestrina (though the information is there in Noel O’Regan’s useful booklet note). Beyond that, it lists the keyboard ricercars as only ‘attrib’, whereas they are clearly ascribed in the source, merely doubted in some circles because they were never printed and do not survive in Palestrina’s hand.
The eight-voice Mass is of the cori spezzati variety, that is, with both choirs independently complete for singing well apart from one another, though that couldn’t have happened in the Sistine Chapel (which had only the one choir balcony); and the recording here makes no attempt to separate the choirs, which is a slight pity. The other pity is that they follow the annoying habit of singing Palestrina’s first Agnus Dei twice rather than adding a first or second Agnus in chant, which is presumably what Palestrina expected. But for the rest David Hill produces a marvellous sound from his choir, beautifully tuned, beautifully balanced and with many truly exciting moments.
Bruce Dickie is a totally authoritative player for the two Bassano pieces and two further Palestrina pieces; and Liuwe Tamminga plays with equal authority. These tracks are an unalloyed pleasure.