In 2022, after several performances in previous years, Cappella Pratensis decided to record Jacob Obrecht’s monumental Missa Maria zart on CD. The album was released at the end of March 2023.
In 1504, the great polyphonist Jacob Obrecht undertook a journey from his homeland of Flanders to Ferrara, where he was appointed as composer in the musical chapel of Duke Ercole d’Este. On the way, Obrecht stopped in Innsbruck, where he must have learned the German devotional song to the Virgin Mary, Maria zart. The sweet tones of this simple song inspired the composer to produce one of his greatest works: the Missa Maria zart. With a dizzying array of compositional achievements and sheer joie de vivre, this mass is a monument to the flamboyant Gothic style, and at over an hour it is the longest mass in the Renaissance repertoire. Only a year later Obrecht died in the outbreak of the plague, so this mass can be seen as his musical testament.
No authentic choirbook remains of the mass, only a set of partbooks. Commissioned by the Alamire Foundation in Leuven, Marc Busnel, bass singer in Cappella Pratensis and gifted calligrapher, made a new, full-size choirbook based on the original source.
Listen to excerpts from the Mass below. Or: order the CD.