Ingegneri Sacred Music Vol 3 Toccata TOCC0677

Marc’ Antonio Ingegneri (c.1535-1592)
Volume 3: Missa Susanne un jour a5 and Motets for Double Choir
Choir of Girton College, Cambridge
Historic Brass of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama/Gareth Wilson
Emily Nott and Felix Elliot (organ)
rec. 2022, St. George’s Church, North Cambridge, UK
Toccata Classics TOCC0677 [74]

In the review of Volume 2 of the sacred works of Claudio Monteverdi’s teacher Marc’ Antonio Ingegneri, I wrote that the ‘fresh-voiced choir seems completely devoted to this composer’. This also came across in the Radio 3’s Early Music Show in January 2023, when the interviewed members of the choir and the conductor demonstrated their enthusiasm. They have performed and even toured this music across Europe. One might say that the composer and his music have forged itself into the choir and their director. They sound relaxed, free and passionate, and they confidently bring this music to light for practically the first time in over four centuries. Ingegneri’s language, subtly different from those of his contemporaries, only gradually reveals itself.

To enjoy Missa Susanne un jour fully, one may want first to hear the brass version arranged by Bassani, and then program the five movements contiguously (they sit on tracks 2, 4, 6, 9 and 11). Guillaume Géroult’s distinctly secular text was first set by Didier Lupi (d.c.1560), a little-known figure. In 1560, Orlande de Lassus reworked the chanson – published often over a twenty-year period – and he then composed a mass on it. That set a trend for others to follow.

The chanson became one of the most popular of its time. The upper melodic line is memorable. Much of the harmony is warm and has an air of deep melancholy. The Mass demonstrates these facets throughout, but the chanson is at its clearest in the Kyrie. In the Gloria and Credo, you will detect fragments, especially at cadential points, and certain lines from the original are often imitated across the texture. The overall effect, especially doubled, as it is by brass, is noble and uplifting, particularly in the final Agnus Dei.

Seemingly placed at random are several motets, mostly for double choir, contrasting in mood and, to some extent, in style. The booklet writer Carlos Rodriguez Otero, a Cambridge doctoral student, contrubuted an excellent, detailed essay A Composer between two worlds. He writes of the composer’s ‘pluralistic approach, covering an impressive variety of styles and genre’s’. Those range from a traditional contrapuntal style, as in the Mass, to a more madrigalian approach in the motets O Sacrum convivium and the elegiac Salve Regina.

Director Gareth Wilson supplies another extended essay. We read that ‘the majority of the motets we have recorded come from the 1589 “Liber Sacrarum Contionum” (Book of Sacred Songs) which features most the polychoral items we hear’. To add variety, Exaudiat te Dominus and Regnum mundi are played by brass only; Non mi togli’ Il ben mio and Quel grazia, o qual beltate are performed on the College organ. Even so, the texts of these motets are also included.

At this stage, I am unable to accept Wilson’s belief that Ingegneri’s music is of a ‘staggering high quality’. I have praised the choir, but I would add that even more character and verve is needed in a joyous motet such as Laudate Dominum and indeed Cantate Domino. The words do not always carry clearly because of the acoustic or the accompanying instrumental work.

Wilson is asking if he should continue with Ingegneri – a fourth volume is on the way – or move on to another composer for the educational benefit of his students. There is much of Ingegneri’s music still to be discovered. We will see if it is Girton College that will continue to hold the torch for this fascinating composer.

Gary Higginson

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Cantate Domino a8
Missa Susanne un jour a5 – Kyrie
Giovanni Bassano (c.1561-1617) after Orlande de Lassus (1532-1594)
Susanne un jour a5 (instrumental)
Missa Susanne un jour – Gloria
Laudate Dominum a12
Missa Susanne un jour -Credo
Exaudiat te Dominus a9
Non mi togli’ il ben mio a4
Missa Susanne un jour- Sanctus and Benedictus
Omnes sitientes a9
Missa Susanne un jour – Agnus dei
O sacrum convivium a6
Regnum mundi a8
Qual grazia, o qual beltate a4
Victimae Paschali laudes a8
Salve regina a6