Wednesday, 20 December, 2023 at 8:00 pm
De Bijloke, Ghent, Belgium
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Christophe Huss, Le Devoir (12 February, 2021)
Quite a catch for Decca, which seems to have dislodged from Harmonia Mundi the vocal ensemble Stile Antico, the finest group to appear in Renaissance music in two decades. This CD is as brilliant, immaculate and striking as its predecessors. The common thread of this tribute to Josquin Desprez on the 500th anniversary of his death is the Missa Pange Lingua, utterly characteristic of the contribution to polyphonic writing of the greatest composer of his time. Josquin adds astonishing expressiveness in a moving “Et incarnatus est”. Stile Antico has chosen to separate the five parts of the Mass mainly by motets, two works by Hieronymus Vinders and Jacquet de Mantua concluding the programme. Everywhere, Stile Antico strives for the perfect balance between spirit and flesh. Sopranos are heavenly, but the sound does not get lost in space. Compared to the French school (A Sei Voci), Stile Antico relies on poetry of sound and hedonism. The only enigma: what is the perky secular song El Grillo doing between the Creed and the Sanctus?