This recording contains the Missa Puisque je vis, almost certainly by Dufay, and Compère’s Omnium bonorum plena written in praise of the Virgin Mary, as well as motets by Dufay and other sources, all of which help colour our increasing awareness of the florid richness and emotional devotion of music before Baroque, till recently the starting point of most people’s awareness of the art. Characteristics of Dufay are his intricate workmanship and the development of independent balance among the vocal parts that lead us naturally to the satisfying clarity which has itself given old music a strangely contemporary feel.
The Clerks' Group is a popular a cappella singing ensemble devoted largely to Medieval and Renaissance-era vocal works. It consists of eight singers, but early on performed with as few as six. The range of most of the compositions the group performs spans from the eleventh century to the end of sixteenth century, though there are a small number of contemporary pieces that were commissioned for concert use. At the heart of the repertory are sacred works by Ockeghem, Josquin Desprez, Obrecht, Machaut, Dufay, Dunstable, and other composers of that era.
The composers known collectively as the Fiamminghi made their mark in Europe in general and in Italy and in France in particular during the 15th century. Their talent and skill gained them the most important positions in the great musical establishments of the time. This collection is devoted to the leading composers of the 15th century, from those of the first generation (Guillaume Dufay, Gilles Binchois, Arnold de Lantins and Johannes Brassart) through Johannes Ockeghem, the great master of polyphonic technique, to Josquin Desprez and Pierre de La Rue, two musicians taught by Ockeghem who laid the foundations of the Ars Perfecta during the Renaissance. Also included is Jacob Obrecht, the only composer of this school whose career was based essentially in his native Flanders. Every genre of both sacred as well as secular music of the time is represented here.
This is exceptional. There are certainly many different valid ways to perform the Missa solemnis, but it's hard to imagine they will surpass this outstanding version…The Royal Concertgebouw is on absolutely top form…As for the soloists, it is hard to recall a Solemnis quartet who blend so well while retaining their mesmeric individuality. (BBC Music Magazine)