Hassler: Missa Super Dixit Maria
Ensemble Vocal Européen & Philippe Herreweghe
Open iTunes to preview, buy, and download music.
A good beginning
This recording of several of Hans Leo Hassler's choral compositions fills a great void in available renderings of this late Renaissance composer. Though Germany was not especially known for its musical conributions, Hassler's work should at least be considered important, while not necessarily reaching the heights of Palestrina or Victoria. How Hassler could have been neglected this long, however, does his music a disservice. The recording itself has a relatively clean sound, crisp note values, and a strong blend. Sadly, the music periodically comes across as rather lifeless. Besides the slow pace of the music, the two lower voices (bass and tenor) hold excessive prominence, to the detriment of the whole. The light soaring sound of Renaissance polyphany and the antiphonal character of Hassler's music (in imitation of the Venetian schools) also suffer. Lastly, the mass setting would hold more meaning musically if placed in contrast to the parodied motet, Dixit Maria. This recording fails to do this. All in all, the recording is a good first offering for anyone seeking familiarity with Hassler's work, but it should by no means be held as representative of it or how it should sound.