Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Josquin Desprez, Peter Phillips, The Tallis Scholars|
Josquin: Missa Sine Nomine; Missa Ad Fugam
Listen to Samples
"Nameless" or not ...
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 05/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...Josquin's Missa Sine Nomine deserves to be heard far more often than it is. Likewise his 'mass in fugue.' In fact, this performance, recorded in 2008, is the only one availble. Fortunately it is perhaps the best the Scholars have ever sounded. The ensemble is perfect, the balance of voices is perfect, the interpretation is vigorous, the rhythms are crisp, I can actually understand the familiar Latin, and although they still sound like a 'choir', these masses are richly suited to their choral sound. And the music is extraordinary, even by the sublime standards of Franco-Flemish polyphony.
TS director Peter Phillips himself prepared the performing scores for this recording. Here's what he says about it: "This recording presents the only two Masses by Josquin which are entirely based on canons; a single melody stated in different voice parts at different times so that it overlaps with itself. To write this kind of music may sound academic to the modern mind: who is interested in the mathematical scaffolding which most people can't hear? But Josquin was interested in it - as were many composers from Bach to Brahms to Webern - and I knew that, like every composer of genius, he would relish the challenge."
Actually, I disagree with Master Phillips about the ability of "most people" to hear the canonic scaffolding of these masses. I'm not often accused of overestimating people, but in this case I think Josquin's canonic structures will be EASIER for a modern listener, accustomed to Bach, to hear immediately and to enjoy. Really, if you've never heard any of Josquin's masses before, these two might well be the best choice for your initiation.
There are sixteen surviving masses by Josquin des Pres (1440-1521), and all of them are summit masterpieces. It's as worthwhile to collect and hear all of them as to do so with the string quartets of Beethoven or the symphonies of Shostakovich. This seems a good a place to list all the verified Josquin masses, with what I consider the best available recording of each:
L'ami Baudichon CAPELLA ALAMIRE
L'Homme Armé super voces TALLIS SCHOLARS
L'Homme Armé sexti toni TALLIS SCHOLARS
Ave Maris Stella DUFAY ENSEMBLE
De Beata Virgine THEATRE OF VOICES
Pange Lingua ENSEMBLE CLEMENT JANEQUIN
Fortuna Desperata TALLIS SCHOLARS or CLERKS' GROUP
Malheur me Bat TALLIS SCHOLARS or CLERKS' GROUP
Mater Patris CHANTICLEER
Hercules Dux Ferrariae HILLIARD ENSENBLE
La Sol Fa Re Mi TALLIS SCHOLARS
Sine Nomine TALLIS SCHOLARS
Ad Fugam TALLIS SCHOLARS
Gaudeamus A SEI VOCI
Di Dadi MEDIEVAL ENSEMBLE OF LONDON
Faysant Regretz CLERKS' GROUP or MEDIEVAL ENSEMBLE OF LONDON"
Another outstanding disc from the Tallis Scholars
Sid Nuncius | London England | 06/05/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Praising the Tallis Scholars these days is like praising Alfred Brendel or the Takacs Quartet - they are so reliably brilliant that it's almost redundant. It's still worth doing, though, and this is another really fine recording. All those characteristics of magnificent blend, clarity and fluidity of line, impeccable tuning and superb quality of sound are all there, and the Tallis Scholars' affinity with Josquin is as strong and affecting as it was 20-odd years ago when their disc of Missa Pange Lingua won the Gramophone Record of the Year Award (still the only early music recording ever to do so) and then the recording of Josquin's L'Homme Arme masses became a treasured gem of so many collections.
On the current disc are Josquin's two fugal masses, one early and one mature. They are both new to me and both wonderful works, and there are the usual extensive and scholarly notes by Peter Phillips which so enhance my enjoyment and understanding of what I'm hearing. The overall sound, of course, is lovely and listening for the ingenious structural underpinning is very rewarding, too. It's a great disc.
If I have a tiny niggle it is that the basses are, to my ear, slightly under-recorded. Donald Greig and Francis Steele are really fine singers who make the most fabulous sound together, and I'd like to have a mix which uses them to make the overall sound a little richer. It is a tiny niggle, though - don't let it put you off a really enjoyable, rewarding disc.
I have been a fan of the Tallis Scholars for thirty years and more. This is well up to the extraordinarily high standard they have set over that time, and the Missa Ad fugam stands as a fitting memorial to Tessa Bonner, the wonderful soprano who died on 31st December 2008. Very highly recommended."
Canonic masses of a great musical genius
Antonio Mustaros | Naucalpan, Estado de México Mexico | 09/23/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This masses enterely composed in fugal or canonic language are amazingly beautiful and profound. Their force speaks of eternity and cosmic energy. Josquin is one of the greatest composers of all time. This performance by the marvellous Tallis Scholars is an example of the way this music must be sing. A gem."