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Chanticleer

Teldec

It’s not too late to solemnize the quatercentenary of the 1594 death of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, one of history’s greatest composers. And what better way to do so than in contemplation of his “Missa pro defunctis”? This “Mass for the Departed,” with its haunting Kyrie and Agnus Dei, is a profound meditation on the afterlife that Palestrina composed three years before his death—possibly to be sung at his own funeral. Chanticleer, the U.S.’s only full-time professional a cappella ensemble, excels with this music, achieving the difficult and austere polyphony of the requiem with a perfection formerly evinced only by the Tallis Scholars. Palestrina’s motets are no less superbly rendered.