Hervé Niquet possesses two constant character traits: he is an indefatigable excavator of forgotten music, and he loves polyphony and ‘large forms’. A few years ago, he caused a sensation by exhuming the monumental music of Striggio. To mark the thirtieth anniversary of his ensemble, Le Concert Spirituel, he now tackles a new peak of polyphony: a mass by Orazio Benevolo (1605–72) performed by eight choirs of four singers, accompanied by fifteen continuo players. In concert, the choirs are spread out around the nave, with the audience in the middle. Benevolo was born to a Burgundian confectioner father who had emigrated to Rome. Educated at the choir school of San Luigi dei Francesi, he became one of the greatest geniuses of polychorality, a prolific composer who represented the splendours of French art in Rome. He ended his career as maestro di cappella at the Vatican. This music has been resurrected thanks to the work of the great musicologist Jean Lionnet, who spent many years copying out by hand the music of numerous Italian composers in the Vatican archives, from which it was impossible to borrow documents. As a result of his labours the Missa Si Deus pro nobis has now been recorded, accompanied by vocal and instrumental pieces by Monteverdi, Frescobaldi and Palestrina.

Diapason Or award GRAMOPHONE Editor's Choice award Le choix de France Musique award Choc Classica award Cle Or ResMusica award

"The sheer scale of this richly textured 17th-century music, captured in a perfectly spacious acoustic, is compelling from the very beginning. A fascinating project."
Gramophone
"These pungent, high-energy performances by Niquet and his French period band suggest a musical imagination which yields little to Monteverdi: the Cantate Domino begins along similar lines to Pitoni’s better-known setting but quickly spirals into something infinitely more radical, and the breakneck climax of the Mass’s Gloria left me gasping for breath."
Presto Classical
"a wonderful disc of music fully deserving discovery. Bravo Benevolo – and his latter-day champions!"
BBC Music Magazine
"An exciting result which certainly gives us a vivid appreciation of Benevoli’s individual voice."
Early Music Review
"The scale of the performance and the sound matches the ambition of the work itself and if you are a sucker for these massive polyphonic statements your mouth will already be watering."
Record Review BBC 3, 7 July 2018