Francisco Valls: Missa Regalis
AAM Records’ newest release features the Academy of Ancient Music joining forces with The Choir of Keble College and director Matthew Martin in a landmark recording of Francisco Vall’s ‘forgotten’ Missa Regalis . Performed from a new edition by Simon Heighes, Valls’ fascinating (and frequently confusticating) juxtaposition of ancient and ‘modern’ compositional styles provides a intriguing glimpse into the treasure-trove of Spanish baroque music, much of which remains relatively unknown to the wider world.
The Academy of Ancient Music is committed to the exploration of “new” works from the 17th and 18th centuries; AAM’s founder, Christopher Hogwood, was himself a keen musical detective, and this spirit of discovery runs throughout AAM’s activity. The movements of the Missa Regalis are interspersed with earlier keyboard works by both Francisco Corrêa de Arouxo and Juan Cabinilles. Director Matthew Martin writes: ‘there has been no attempt to create any particular formal liturgical sequence here, rather to place the Mass within a broader musical context using a style of keyboard writing most likely to have been familiar to Valls and his contemporaries.’ These organ pieces were recorded on the Aubertin organ in St. John’s College, Oxford and overlaid with Keble Chapel’s acoustic.
Review in Europadisc, June 2020:
“a definite cause for celebration… [Matthew] Martin and his choir clearly have an understanding of this music that is both informed and instinctive… exceptionally generous documentation on Valls, the Mass itself, the organ works, and the wider Iberian organ tradition. For lovers of Baroque music who want to explore beyond the familiar highways and byways, this disc will really whet the appetite: do try it!”
“[from] a new edition by musicologist Simon Heighes in what is a world-premiere recording. And it’s quite a find: although scored conservatively for five-part chorus plus continuo group, it nevertheless succeeds in artfully blending the traditional with the modern, in a way that only a composer of considerable experience can achieve.”
“The young, mixed voices of the Keble College Choir, under the expert direction of Matthew Martin, have just the sort of vibrant yet focused tone that this music needs.. The upper parts have a purity that readily evokes the boys’ voices with which Valls would have worked on a daily basis, while the lower parts have a welcome sonorousness to them. The Academy of Ancient Music… give expert, subtly coloured support to the choir throughout.”
“Matthew Martin himself takes to the organ of St John’s College, Oxford, for three wonderfully contrasting 17th-century tientos… All receive splendidly idiomatic performances by Martin at the 2008 Bernard Aubertin organ of St John’s Chapel, successfully recreating a soundworld with which Valls would certainly have been familiar.”
Release date: 1 May, 2020