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.
England's Orlando Consort, a quartet of male singers augmented as needed by other performers, offers performances of Renaissance vocal music that lie midway between the traditional and the highly individualized modern. Sometimes they veer toward one of those two extremes, but often, as on the present disc, they find a happy medium. Their sound, especially in sacred music, owes much to the English cathedral tradition, but there's a well-honed edge to their one-voice-to-a-part interpretations that brings out the crowds who've recently been drawn to early music. This disc is intended as an introduction to a composer who doesn't always offer easy listening to the modern ear. Netherlander Antoine Busnois, active at the end of the fifteenth century and considered the greatest figure between Dufay and Josquin, wrote music that broke free from elaborate medieval numerology but came in advance of Josquin's perfect marriage of music and text.
Modern ears have been subjected to a sound world so complex and chaotic–and just plain noisy–that it's impossible for us now to really appreciate the original contextual significance of works such as these 15th century motets of Guillaume Dufay. We can enjoy them on many levels and we can intellectually understand their importance, but when we hear these very complex rhythms, and harmonies that often have a strange, vacant quality, we can't erase from our memory the fact that we've heard Brahms and Ives and Stravinsky. But I picked those three composers because each owes something to Dufay and to others who wrote in ancient forms and styles, in this case the isorhythmic motet. Much like Bach's works were at the same time a summation and epitomization of the Baroque, so were these motets of Dufay in their way a final, ultimate statement regarding one of the more sophisticated musical forms of the Middle Ages.
The Franco-Flemish composer, Johannes Ockeghem, sang at Antwerp at the Bourbon court before joining the French royal chapel in 1451. Ockeghem spent most of his professional life at the French chapel and his output was quite prolific. He composed 14 settings of the Mass, including one of the earliest polyphonic versions of the Requiem. Ockeghem also composed numerous motets and secular songs. He was one of the most original voices in early Renaissance polyphony and his music dazzles with its ingenuity and beauty.
Extraordinarily well-written, prodigiously inventive, and relentlessly exciting–these aren’t terms normally used to describe 18th-century Masses, but then there is nothing “normal” about this late work by Czech composer Jan Dismas Zelenka. Simply put, if you aren’t acquainted with Zelenka (or if you’ve experienced a previous aversion to Masses), when you hear this piece-a substantial and powerful conception, from the first note of the Kyrie to the final chord of the Dona nobis pacem-you will wonder why this composer does not enjoy much greater esteem and popularity with performers, particularly alongside J.S. Bach (his contemporary) and Mozart.
This recording of Georg Muffat's monumental mass alongside church sonatas by his contemporaries creates a vivid impression of the imposing sacred music heard at leading Catholic courts during the High Baroque. The Abbey Church of Muri with its four galleries and its historical Bossart organs proves to be a performance venue with perfect acoustics for these polychoral works.
Rock operas seem to be quite fashionable these days, but this one is just too good and interesting to dismiss it as "just another one". Just a look at the participants shows that this is an almost safe play, with musicians from VANDEN PLAS, PINK CREAM 69 and SILENT FORCE, while the characters are sung by D.C. Cooper (SILENT FORCE; also responsible for all the lyrics), Sabine Edelsbacher (EDENBRIDGE), Andy Kuntz (VANDEN PLAS), David Readman (PINK CREAM 69), plus a professional soul and an opera soprano (both, of course, female), so highest quality ensured in this department, too.