LASSUS: Lamentationes JeremiÊ ProphetÊ; Requiem

In addition to this sizeable musical legacy, a body of
letters from Lassus to Albrecht’s son, Wilhelm, also survives. The letters move
between Latin, Italian, French, and German, a lingual range that aptly symbolizes his musical
scope, as well, for his liturgical works are joined by Italian madrigals, French chanson, and
German Lieder. All in all, a striking example of musical internationalism.
Significantly, however, his output is so impressively large that it is easy to concentrate on
particular genres, even particular affective moods, and not feel constrained in the choice.
Such is the case with this present recording by Stephen Cleobury and Collegium Regale, the
choral scholars of the famed Choir of King’s College, Cambridge. The program here is
tightly focused on music of lament, including a five-voice setting of the
“Lamentations of Jeremiah” (1585) and a four-voice
“Requiem” (1578), as well as the motets “In monte
Oliveti” and “Vide homo.” Lassus is much at home in this
dolorous language—one is quickly reminded of his famous “Penitential
Psalms,” as well—and the intensity of its affective substance is deeply

As is the performance. Collegium Regale sings with a generous sound, wonderfully well focused
and vowel rich. Their lines unfold with rounded contours that seem both natural and at the
same time the product of highly cultivated technical control. And in low sonorities with close
harmonic voicing, the blend, like that of a fine trombone choir, is simply exquisite. To savor
the sound is in many ways to savor the pieces, for Lassus here often foregoes complex
counterpoint in favor of textures that allow the sound to predominate. Thus, the recording is
a felicitous match of an ensemble whose sound is irresistible and pieces that repeatedly offer
it the chance to shine.

Enthusiasts will find nothing to complain about here. Others may find that the general
consistency of much of the program is rather a lot of a good thing. On occasion where the text
suggests it—words of derision or defilement, for instance—Lassus will
respond with increased animation, a dissonant pang, and so forth—but for the most
part, things seem more uniform than not. The enthusiast will, once again, relish it all, and
not be tempted to look for diversity. There is, after all, so very much to savor.

Steven Plank
Oberlin College

image_description=LASSUS: Lamentationes JeremiÊ ProphetÊ; Requiem
product_title=Lassus: Lamentationes JeremiÊ ProphetÊ; Requiem
product_by=Collegium Regale. Stephen Cleobury, Director
product_id=Signum Classics SIGCD076 [CD]