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The label Musique en Wallonie impresses with beautiful packaging, high design values and clarity and immediacy of recorded sound, and these three releases are all valuable in different ways: in De Orto/Josquin - Musique à la Chappelle Sixtine autour de 1490 the vocal consort Cut Circle, working one or two to a line, contextualises Josquin’s Roman compositions with world premiere recordings of nine works by his contemporaries in the Sistine Chapel Choir, with the extraordinary Missa L’Homme armé by Marbrianus De Orto being more than worth the exercise in its own right. Their singing is energetic and accurate, their research impeccable, and this double album will delight all who desire a detailed delve into Josquin’s soundworld.

O Rex Orbis – Officium in Festo sancti Karoli is an illuminating exploration of plainchant and polyphony in honour of the eighth-century Emperor Charlemagne. Even though the execution by Exsultemus is not always at the exalted level expected nowadays, this does not detract significantly from the fascination of the material nor the scholarship behind their reconstruction of music for the offices of Vespers and Compline.

If academic issues seem to take precedence in the first two titles, the third exemplifies a true marriage of scholarship and performance values, finding the ever-excellent German vocal consort Singer Pur in very fine form, playfully and intelligently drawing the most from a wonderful selection of sacred and secular works in Roland de Lassus – Biographie musicale Vol.2, cherry-picking material from his years in Bavaria at the ducal court in Munich: superb, refined singing from an ensemble equally versatile and expressive in German, French and Latin.

REBECCA TAVENER Read the full review on Agora Classica

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