The aim of this Italian release is, according to the booklet, "to re-create, as much as possible in terms of both forces and interpretation, a hypothetical performance by the pontifical chapel during the second half of the sixteenth century" of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina's most famous pieces, the Missa Papae Marcelli or Pope Marcellus Mass. This re-creation entails various aspects, most of which sharply separate the performance from the general run of readings of this mass, which are informed by a tradition of several centuries of myth-making that began with Palestrina himself. The performance involves a small ensemble of about 20 singers (three to a part in the mass) as well as certain other matters of pitch and edition procedure. The small all-male group (countertenors, baritones, and basses) has a direct, unfussy sound that avoids the self-consciously ethereal quality traditionally associated with Palestrina, and it's fresh and appealing. The biggest attraction here, however, is the program, which embeds the mass in a series of chants and motets that presents the music from possible actual liturgies beginning on Holy Saturday. This has been done with other Renaissance masses, but not much with Palestrina, and for the general listener it's likely to be quite a revelation: the contrapuntally spacious Pope Marcellus Mass, which can seem a bit featureless when listened to one movement after another, here jumps into sharp focus when it is placed in contrast with texturally simpler music. The various motets seem to hew more closely to the new desideratum of homophony being promoted by the church, but the mass itself ignores the pressure and seems to justify itself by being splendid and profound. Early music groups have come back to Palestrina after a long period in which they weren't much interested in him, and fans of Renaissance sacred music will definitely find this disc of interest, especially with fine sound. Notes and texts are given in German, French, English, and Italian.