You’ll come for the music, but stay for the biography. The third volume of WEM’s excellent series couples first-rate performances of Lassus’ music with an in-depth biography that places that music in context.
This volume focuses on the year 1583, when Lassus’ relationship with his sponsor, Albrecht V Duke of Bavaria, was starting to unravel. The music from this time is mostly sacred, featuring the Missa O passi sparsi, along with several motets and the Magnificat supra Las je n’iray.
The Egidius Quartet wisely inserts several “sine textu” instrumental works throughout the program. It provides some tonal variety, and makes the disc enjoyable to listen to straight through. The Egidua Quartet and College perform with pure singing tones that give the selections a luminous transparency.
The release comes with a 62 page hard-bound CD book with color illustrations. It’s as much a joy to read as the music is to listen to. Granted, this release will most likely appeal to only hardcore early music lovers. But if you’re one of them, this — and the rest of the series — is worth the investment.
Roland de Lassus: Musical Biography, Vol. 3
Egidus Quartet and College; Peter de Groot, director