Enterprising Dutch label Brilliant Classics has found a very clever formula. It is being extremely successful in Naxos' core territory of the super-budget market by only offering multi-CD boxes containing some very worthwhile recordings. I've written before about some of them being too good to miss , and while in France a few weeks ago I picked up one of their new releases which I really must share with you.
Renaissance Masterpieces is thankfully not another 'Greatest Hits of Polyphony' package. Yes, there is some wonderful Tallis, Byrd, Lassus, and Palestrina on three of the five discs, but even that is cleverly chosen with no Spem or Byrd Masses. The other two discs contain great delights from two lesser known composers which are worth the very reasonable price of the set alone. Do you know the music of Eustache du Caurroy (French 1549-1609) or Phillipe de Monte - photo above - (Flemish 1521-1603)? If not buy Renaissance Masterpieces, I promise you will not be disappointed. I paid just 24€ (£17/$31) for the 5 CD set which comes with decent sleeve notes and texts, a Brilliant bargain.
Renaissance Masterpieces is beautifully sung by the Choir of New College Oxford directed by Edward Higginbottom in recordings licensed from CRD. Brilliant Classics releases a mixture of older tapes licensed from other companies and their own new recordings. Two of their own new recordings which also come highly recommended at super budget prices are the young Belgium Rubio Quartet's outstanding cycle of the Shostakovich Quartets (5 CDs), and the complete Haydn Piano Sonatas played by five different young pianists on fortepiano (10 CDs). Finally among their new recordings I recommend the Schütz Edition, I have recently really enjoyed Volume 2which includes some beautiful Madrigals. Heinrich Schütz (right) is a composer who seems sadly to have fallen out of fashion, he deserves some vigorous advocacy.
Among the licensed recordings the 5 CD box of Palestrina Masses sung by Pro Cantione Antiqua is very fine, as is the 4 CD box of Renaissance Flemish Polyphonists which I have written about previously. This set is worth the price alone for Antoine Brumel's Missa "Et ecce terraemotus" (Earthquake Mass), if you love Tallis' Spem in Alium you'll love this. Finally for keyboard enthusiasts Federico Mompou's Complete Piano Music played by the composer in a 1974 recording on 4 CDs is a 'must buy'. If you don't know Mompou's piano music with its shades of Satie and Debussy you are missing a great treat.
There is an awful lot of wonderful music on Brilliant Classics. And the good news is that at their super-budget prices they will not break the bank.
Philippus de Monte - Klassiekemuziekgids.net
Heinrich Schütz - Classical music pages
Please report broken links or missing images to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk
If you enjoyed this post take an overgrown path to Masses of early music in summertime Cambridge