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Josquin Desprez: Missa di dadi; Missa "Faysant regretz"
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A voice teacher and early music fan
George Peabody | Planet Earth | 12/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"EARLIEST AND STILL THE BEST REPRESENTATION OF JOSQUIN BY THE MEDIEVAL ENSEMBLE OF LONDON!
Josquin Despres (1440-1521), was the central musical figure of the early Renaissance, and his sensitivity to the moods of his texts and the expressiveness of his compositions- some 20 Masses, 100 motets and 80 secular works are extant- set him apart as a pioneer in his day.
The two masses performed here are quite fascinating and lush-sounding. One is first impressed mostly by Mass Faisant which is based on a single four-note motif and then reveals the motif in ever-changing colours. This provides an endless kaleidoscope of fresh musical ideas that remain intense throughout the work, which, of course, results in an interesting variety of tonal color. However, in the long run, the Mass Di dada, though it is less ingenius, is enhanced by the extraordinary range of its ideas and its formal coherence which place this less-regarded cycle among the finest and most controlled of Josquin's work. Neither had been recorded before, and both give an apt reminder of how superbly Josquin surpasses the achievements of his contemporaries.
The Medieval Ensemble of London, although a short-lived group, came out with their first recording in 1981; their last in 1985, and this recording of Josquin was their penultimate recording. At no point in their career did this group compromise scholarly standards. One of the refreshing features of their work was that they simply let the music speak for itself; this was partly a reaction against the more colourful performances of the years around 1970.
In this recording of 'Josquin Masses' Peter and Timothy Davies made use of the latest scholarly evidence on the make-up of late-fifteenth-century ensembles; no instruments, but just nine FABULOUS voices, all grown men, with slightly more on the top line than on the others. The very best voices were chosen, experienced in this type of repertory, from the like of Rogers Covey-Crump and Charles Brett, to the young newcomer Michael Chance (who sings the lead countertenor most of the time). The sheer sound here certainly reflects the luxury casting. These are excellent performances from this small group of nine singers. Actually this combo comes closest to the kind of group for which Josquin wrote his works. The group displays perfect balance between the parts and impeccable intonation.
BBC Magazine, Feb. 2008: "Time hasn't dimmed the brilliant achievemnt of this unjustly forgotten group, putting instruments aside for searching, ravishing singing, their nine voices beautifully recorded."
THESE MARVELOUS MUSICIANS JUST ALLOW THE MUSIC TO SPEAK, SHAPING IT WITH THEIR AWESOME ACCUMULATION OF COMBINED ARTSTRY. Wonderful listening; it absolutely thrilled me! And I certainly plan on locating some of their other discs. (Accompanying booklet includes pertinent information in English, French and German. Text is translated from Latin to English.)