The Cardinall’s Musick finished 2010 in a blaze of glory with their Gramophone Recording of the Year award for the last volume of their Byrd Edition. Only the second time in thirty years that an Early Music recording has received this prestigious accolade, it is a fitting tribute to the soaring artistry of the group and their director, Andrew Carwood.
Their eagerly-awaited next disc features music from late sixteenth-century Rome and ranges from Allegri’s Miserere, surely the best-known and best-loved work of this period, to a rarely-performed or recorded oddity. Seven Roman musicians came together (or were brought together) to write a Mass-setting where they each contributed different sections. The resulting work, the twelve-voice Missa Cantantibus organis, is a tribute both to Cecilia (the patron saint of music) and to Palestrina. The seven composers each take themes found in Palestrina’s motet of the same name and use them as the starting point for their new compositions. Palestrina himself is among the seven, with Giovanni Andrea Dragoni, Ruggiero Giovannelli, Curzio Mancini, Prospero Santini, Francesco Soriano and Annibale Stabile being the other six. All seven composers were prominent maestri in Rome and most appear to have had contact with Palestrina either as choristers or pupils.