Bremen-based Weser-Renaissance is one of the European historical-performance ensembles that has signed on to the American-spawned one-voice-per-part movement in the performance of German Baroque choral music. Its smooth, almost silky sound is attractive, and in smaller works of the seventeenth century, such as those of Schein, results in powerful, rather inward-looking performances. Here the group sets out, quoting annotator Franz Korndle, "to convey an impression of festive liturgical music such as it was performed in the Munich court chapel under Orlando di Lasso." The degree of musicological investigation involved is impressive.
Germany's Die Singphoniker, here a vocal sextet, were partly inspired by the King's Singers from Britain, and they have explored a similarly wide-ranging repertoire, from Renaissance a cappella vocal music to contemporary classical and pop. The King's Singers, however, have rarely released albums of truly unusual repertory, except in the contemporary field; this kind of small-group singing usually relies either on some audience familiarity with what's being sung, or on the composition of music expressly for this medium. In this case, Die Singphoniker tackles a rarely represented repertory and emerges with decent results. The vast choral output of Orlando di Lasso (aka, Orlande de Lassus) remains largely unexplored, and this little album gives a clue as to the interesting things to be found. Lasso's hymns were mostly composed around 1580, when the composer was employed as kapellmeister by Wilhelm V, Duke of Bavaria.