With Heinrich Isaac, Giuseppe Maletto and Cantica Symphonia turn their attention to one of the most influential Franco-Flemish composers of the Renaissance, presenting a hitherto unrecorded mass setting, his 'Missa Misericordias Domini', and a selection of outstanding and substantial motets.
Isaac was one of the leading composers who, born and trained in Flanders, took up employ in Italy: in his case he worked at the sumptuous court of Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence at the end of the 15th century (on the latter’s death Isaac was then taken on by the Emperor Maximilian I).
This new recording from Glossa offers a rare chance today of appreciating the music of this extraordinarily prolific composer, often unfairly (as he was in his own time) obscured by the shadow cast by his near-contemporary Josquin Desprez, in interpretations which the sextet of long-experienced singers of Cantica Symphonia handle with typical skill. If the 'Missa Misericordias Domini' ultimately owes its thematic material to an Italian secular song, a frottola (and Guido Magnano, in his booklet essay, maps out Isaac’s biography in Florence to explain this choice), the motets here – including O decus Ecclesiae, Quae est ista and Inviolata – are resolutely Marian devotional works; some recorded also for the first time.
The established special colouring of Cantica Symphonia’s work is maintained here by the well-considered presence in some of the motets of instruments of the time, notably, fiddles, sackbutts and slide trumpets.