The Missa Ave Maris Stella, with its lyrically reverential mood and long duo and trio passages, is among Josquin Desprez's most popular masses, and the listener can choose from among recordings by top Renaissance a cappella vocal groups. This one by the Netherlands ensemble Cappella Pratensis presents itself as hyperauthentic. Backed by a booklet essay from Josquin specialist Jennifer Bloxam, the group purports to re-create the practices, discourse, and atmosphere that would have attended a performance of the mass in the papal chapel around the year 1500.
For centuries, war and peace have been accompanied by music. Music was present on the battlefield, of course: the sounding of the trumpet as a signal to gather or attack, drumbeats to recruit soldiers or set them marching, battle songs to raise morale among the troops or instil fear in the bosom of the enemy. Once the hostilities were over, there was singing and dancing in the streets to celebrate peace.
"…For anyone coming to Josquin’s music for the first time this generous compilation is an ideal way to discover his music. However, a word of warning is appropriate: the music is addictive and once you have sampled it in these exquisite performances you may well want to join The Tallis Scholars on their exploration of all Josquin’s Masses." ~musicweb-international
"As our awards enter their fourth decade, we've paused and looked back over the first 30 years. It's gratifying to see how many of the recordings singled out for the prestigious Record of the Year have gone on to become classics of the catalogue. (…) Then there are the discs that shaped careers - violinists Nigel Kennedy (in Elgar) and Maxim Vengerov (in Prokofiev and Shostakovich) - to which you might add The Tallis Scholars' stunning disc of Masses by Josquin Desprez, a disc that elevated Early Music to the "mainstream". ~Grammophone
This release presents music associated with the Renaissance master Josquin Des Prez, a composer who towers above all others in the first part of the sixteenth century. Numerous works were attributed to him that have now been proven to be by his contemporaries and successors, including the central work on this recording, Jean Richafort’s expansive and beautiful Requiem. It is performed with affecting clarity by the all-male vocal group Cinquecento, whose many previous discs of Renaissance repertoire for Hyperion have garnered the highest critical praise.
Few composers of any age have enjoyed the widespread admiration and unanimous praise of successive generations as Josquin Desprez. He is considered the greatest creator and innovator of musical composition during the Renaissance, and for some half a millennium his music has stood the test of time. He is remembered as much for his own works as for his lasting influence on those of his contemporaries and students, demonstrated in many of the compositions in tribute of 'the Master' featured in this programme. The programme's centrepiece is Jean Richafort's Requiem Mass, Missa pro defunctis, a tribute that employs several of Josquin's compositional devices.
Music in 14th century Europe was dominated by the composers working in the Low Countries, or what we now call The Netherlands and Belgium and Northern France. Dufay was born in Cambrai, but went to Italy in the 1420s to work in Bologna, and eventually became a member of the Papal choir before returning to Cambrai. Josquin Desprez was from Flanders, and moved to Milan in 1460, and like Dufay became a member of the Papal choir, before moving to Cambrai. He was one of the first composers to benefit from the printing of music and his reputation traveled far and wide as a result. His music is beautifully crafted, and he attempted to convey in music the inner meaning of the words - one of the earliest instances of a composer exploring the expressive possibilities of text and music. Ockeghem was born in Dendermonde, and he traveled to Spain and throughout Flanders. His music, like Josquin’s is superbly crafted, with intricate rhythmic sections, and a seamless flow of counterpoint.
…Josquin is widely considered by music scholars to be the first master of the high Renaissance style of polyphonic vocal music that was emerging during his lifetime…