Reviewed by Steven Whitehead
In the 15th and 16th centuries, Milan Cathedral acted as a magnet to many of the finest composers of the time. Yet the Cathedral's maestro di cappella for almost 30 years, Hermann Matthias Werrecore (c. 1500 - post 1574), is almost completely unknown today. Perhaps his Flemish origins meant he was never fully accepted by his Italian congregation or perhaps his later reputation suffered from confusion with his countryman Matthias Le Maistre. Whatever the case, six of Werrecore's surviving motets are presented here, the first time any of his sacred music has been recorded. They are heard alongside works by composers Werrecore knew, drawn mostly from the holdings of the Milan library, during his tenure there, namely Franchinus Gaffurius (1451 - 1522), Gaspar van Weerbeke (c. 1445 - post 1516) and Dominique Phinot (c. 1510 - c. 1556). Also included are two works by Werrecore's much more famous predecessor, Josquin des Prez (c. 1450 - 1521). The opening motet by Werrecore, ''Inviolata, integra et casta es Maria" ("You are inviolate, untouched and chaste, Mary"), is influenced by Josquin's work of the same title and together with "Popule meus"("My people"), a lengthy work which never drags, thanks to a superb performance from Siglo de Oro, suggest that Werrecore is worth getting to know but, sadly, this is as good as it gets and the rest of the material is of merely historical interest, other than Josquin's "Alma redemptoris mater" / "Ave regina caelorum" ("Loving Mother of the Redeemer" / "Hail, queen of heaven") and his own setting of "Inviolata, integra et casta es Maria" which closes the programme. While I am only partly enthusiastic about the material, I am full of admiration for Patrick Allies' chamber choir Siglo de Oro who give a most accomplished performance singing a cappella throughout. The audio quality, recorded by Paul Baxter at the Chapel of Merton College, Oxford, is also first class and while some of the music does not stay long in the memory the way that it is sung makes it worthy of our attention.
The opinions expressed in this article are
not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed
views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may
not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a
Interested in reviewing music? Find out