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GRAMOPHONE (December / 2017)
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Reviewer: Ivan Moody

The Sixteen’s Polish series continues apace with this fine disc of music by the Italiantrained Marcin Mielczewski. The Italian connection has been a constant theme in the series, in fact – two volumes of the series are devoted to Italian composers working in Poland – and one wonders if an innocent ear would guess that this music was not written by an Italian. As Eamonn Dougan points out, the other constant is the influence of Palestrina: the classical contrapuntal skill in Gaude Dei genitrix is at the other end of the stylistic spectrum from the fully Baroque concertato settings of Benedictio et claritas or the rather Monteverdian Veni, Domine.

The Missa Cerviensiana, from which we hear the Kyrie and Gloria, scored for two choirs, one vocal and one instrumental, is built on an unidentified song; the model for the Missa O gloriosa domina, on the other hand, is a well-known Marian song, and anyone hearing the lilting Kyrie or the ‘Hosanna’ section of the Sanctus would hardly be in any doubt of it. Both Mass settings are brief – the Kyrie of the latter lasts under a minute – but Mielczewski is very precise in his text setting, and when he wants to make a point, he does so: the beautiful descending scale motifs of the Sanctus are a good illustration of this.

Performances are of the standard one would expect from The Sixteen, the singers moving effortlessly between ‘old’ and ‘new’ styles, featuring some outstanding solo contributions in the concertato works and supported by an excellent ensemble of instrumentalists, to which the trombones make a particularly noteworthy contribution.

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