Elzear Genet, also known as Carpentras, was a prolific composer in his day who is relatively little known and little recorded. This new debut recording from the Suspicious Cheese Lords, a men’s choral group from Washington, DC, will help to change that.
The Cheese Lords have selected a program of a never before recorded mass (Missa “Se mieulx ne vient”) and previously unrecorded motets for Maestro di Capella. The recording, made at the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, DC, is spacious and resonant, but the ensemble’s precision and nuanced dynamics are in evidence throughout. The motets show off several facets of Genet’s musical style, from chant-influenced polyphony to the rhythmic, almost dancelike “Jubilate Deo” and the haunting “Haec est illa dulcis rosa.” The mass is largely without the contrasts in tempo or style that a Josquin or Byrd would have brought to the form, but the prismatic unfolding of the music from the stately Kyrie through the more urgent Credo into the resolute Agnus dei is still a glorious exemplar of the art. Highly recommended for a window into the music of this era.
So who are the Cheese Lords? Basically, a group of amateur musicians who got together from love of good food and good music. I used to be with the group until a few years ago. The group specializes in Renaissance music, but has performed music ranging from early mediaeval chant to 20th century works and has several composers in residence. The group is named after a deliberately bad translation of the Tallis motet Suscipe, Quaeso Domine, which if you don’t know any Latin sounds like it should mean Suspicious Cheese Lord. They haven’t ever performed the motet, which is pretty darn suspicious in and of itself.