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One of the groups that performed for Benedict XVI in DC sent us their promotional material and some free CDs, and I was intrigued the moment I saw their name. The Suspicious Cheese Lords is an all-male a cappella group from DC, where they sing and record early music, more specifically, Renaissance music, and even more specifically, Renaissance music from composers we’ve barely (or never) heard of. Their three recordings are all world premieres, and feature the works of Elzéar Genet (Carpentras), Ludwig Senfl, and Jean Mouton. It’s not unusual for a composer like these to have a motet or two sung at a concert, but not an entire CD of their music alone. Having listened to them, it’s a good thing that now we have CDs of these musicians’ works, especially ones with the Lords’ solid singing and helpful liner notes.

The Lords are not on the level of the kings of contemporary early music performers, but they make for good, well, lords. Their basses and baritones are particularly well-blended, and Senfl’s Te Deum highlighted this with its rich energy. If you’re interested in early music at all, check out the Lords on their website or listen to some of their recordings here .

Oh, and if you were wondering why they call themselves the Suspicious Cheese Lords, their website provides an explanation:

The Suspicious Cheese Lords’ name is derived from the title of a Thomas Tallis motet, Suscipe quæso Domine. While “translating” the title, it was observed that Suscipe could be “suspicious,” quæso is close to the Spanish word queso meaning “cheese,” and Domine is, of course, “Lord.” Hence, the title of the motet was clearly “Suspicious Cheese Lord”—which in time became adopted as the group’s name. Although their name is humorous, the group appreciates the literal translation of Suscipe Quæso Domine, which is, “Take, I ask, Lord.” Suspiciously, the Cheese Lords have yet to perform this motet.

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