Robert Hollingsworth and Alessandro Striggio’s Mass in 40 Parts



Robert Hollingsworth, director of the acclaimed British vocal ensemble I Fagiolini, describes his experience in recording Alessandro Striggio‘s monumental Missa sopra Ecco sì beato giorno in 40 parts, one of the most important discoveries from the last few decades.

…I was very focused on how the listener would actually hear the piece; many people’s experience of Renaissance vocal music is just a lovely gooey noise. What this choral behemoth needed was colour, to differentiate the five groups. Listening now, post-recording, I hear an extraordinary collection of half-forgotten sounds, clearly presented in families: cornetts (the strange hybrid with a brass-like mouthpiece but a wooden body, considered perfect because it was so close to the human voice) with sackbuts (the mellow precursor of the trombone); soft viols and lutes; dulcians (an early bassoon) with whole choirs of recorders and even a shawm, the early oboe, whose strident sound is rarely heard in sacred music but which in this texture artfully carves its aural spoon through the rich tiramisù of sound.


Read more: Mass in 40 Parts: a masterpiece, 400 years late (The Guardian)

Buy: Striggio: Mass in 40 Parts, I Fagiolini/Hollingsworth [Decca]

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