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Busnois: Missa O Crux Lignum
Antoine Busnois, Orlando Consort
Busnois: Missa O Crux Lignum
Genres: Pop, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #1

This all-Busnois disc is an early music fan's delight, especially as performed by the four accomplished singers of the Orlando Consort, who convey both the purity of Busnois' music and the many surprises lurking within it....  more »

     
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All Artists: Antoine Busnois, Orlando Consort
Title: Busnois: Missa O Crux Lignum
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Harmonia Mundi Fr.
Release Date: 1/11/2005
Album Type: Import
Genres: Pop, Classical
Styles: Vocal Pop, Opera & Classical Vocal, Historical Periods, Early Music
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 093046733322

Synopsis

Amazon.com
This all-Busnois disc is an early music fan's delight, especially as performed by the four accomplished singers of the Orlando Consort, who convey both the purity of Busnois' music and the many surprises lurking within it. The Mass is the "big" work, almost half-an-hour in length. But interest never flags since the music is unfailingly inventive, the voices perfectly matched, the rhythms buoyant. The Mass is preceded and followed by selections of chansons, a hymn, and a pair of motets. In these too, the 15th-century master of polyphony constantly startles with unexpected twists and turns of the long musical lines. His typically adventurous abrupt changes of rhythm, harmonic twists and turns, and pauses for dramatic effect are all rendered with aplomb. Excellent sound. Top-notch production values include a handsome booklet in readable type with texts and translations, even color reproductions of period paintings. --Dan Davis
 

CD Reviews

Lovely, yet unknown, works
Russ | Richmond, VA | 11/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Sources indicate that Antonie Busnois (c. 1430-1492) was one of the most significant composers of the late 15th century. Despite this, recordings of his works, which include two masses, as well as numerous motets and chansons, are relatively few. I have seen his works appear on a handful of renaissance music anthologies, but this is the only release, of which I am aware, which solely features the work of Busnois. Busnois was, more or less, a contemporary of Dufay, and there are some similarities between the two composers.

First of all, this music is fantastic, and it appears that Busnois' reputation (that is, during the 15th century) was well deserved. The most notable item on this program is the "Missa O Crux lignum" which is dramatic, yet beautiful, in every regard. Even though the Mass lasts for nearly half an hour it is continuously engaging and is full of beguiling harmonic and rhythmic twists. The same holds true motets and chansons accompanying the Mass. Listen to the lively syncopations in the Chanson "Resjois-toy, terre de france" (Track 4) as an example. Or listen to the rhythmic buoyancy and leaping intervals of "Vostra beautre / Vous marches du bout du pie" (translation: "Your beauty / You are walking on tiptoe") as an additional example of Busnois' inventiveness (Track 13).

As expected from the Orlando Consort, the music is excellently performed and authentically realized (to the best of our present-day knowledge). If you happen to be unfamiliar with this group, the Orlando Consort is a four member vocal ensemble consisting of two tenors, a countertenor and a baritone, specializing in the performance of medieval and renaissance works. The ensemble has a warm sound, where contrasts between the different melodic lines are emphasized. Or in other words, the ensemble never creates a uniform "wall of sound" that is typical of some renaissance music performances. In any case, the distinct style of the Orlando Consort suits this repertoire well. It should also be mentioned that the sound is near audiophile quality.

In conclusion, this is an outstanding release, and I will return to it often (especially the Mass). If you enjoy the works of Dufay, or have enjoyed the Orlando Consort's previous releases, this disc is well-worth your attention.

Highly recommended.

TT: 62:38"
Reviews of this recording (borrowed)
Slobberer | Astoria, NY United States | 07/08/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Antoine Busnois: Missa O Crux lignum, Motets, Chansons
Orlando Consort
harmonia mundi -- HMU 907333

In 1993, the ensemble Pomerium offered a similar program of works by Antoine Busnois (or, Busnoys), a composer then virtually unknown to most listeners. The 15th-century Burgundian musician wrote in both sacred and secular forms, and two masses, eight motets, and several dozen songs are among his surviving works. What makes Busnois so special is his melodic facility and rhythmic interest, especially notable in the chansons, which are full of lively syncopation and catchy phrasing, and his affinity for unlabored, smoothly flowing counterpoint in the sacred settings, which usually are based on a cantus firmus chant melody. The four voices of the Orlando Consort--countertenor, two tenors, and baritone--obtain what we must assume is a reasonably authentic period sound, and the singers take care to preserve the individuality of each voice rather than try for the kind of pure, uniform timbre characteristic of some other similar groups, such as the Hilliard Ensemble.

My only reservation here is that Robert Harre-Jones' countertenor is so prominent relative to the other voices, and Busnois' music is so texturally undifferentiated that over the course of several tracks the ear wants either a rest or something more varied in terms of voicing or tone quality. In some respects, I prefer Pomerium's warmer, more refined, mixed-voices realization, although their recording is no longer available from the now-defunct Dorian label. Nevertheless, you can't fault these performances, which capitalize on the edgy rhythms in the chansons and make the most of the artful opposition of the countrapuntal lines in the Mass--and you certainly have to be happy with the clear, detailed, vibrant sound, perfectly captured at St. Mary's Parish Church in Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland. [1/26/2005]

--David Vernier


The most recent recording by England's premier performers of Renaissance vocal music, the Orlando Consort, features a selection of works by the renowned fifteenth-century composer Antoine Busnois, works that represent the major genres of music composition of the time -- mass, motet, and chanson. The performances are what we have come to expect from the fine singers of the Orlando Consort: warm, vibrant, and precise.

The most recent recording by England's premier performers of Renaissance vocal music, the Orlando Consort, features a selection of works by the renowned fifteenth-century composer Antoine Busnois, works that represent the major genres of music composition of the time -- mass, motet, and chanson. The performances are what we have come to expect from the fine singers of the Orlando Consort: warm, vibrant, and precise.

A relatively few facts are known about Busnois' biography. Because he was famous enough during his lifetime for the date to have been recorded, we know when he died: November 6, 1492. The circumstances of his birth are less certain; he was probably born around the year 1430, in or near the small town of Busne (hence, "Busnois") in north-eastern France. From pay records -- and from the text of his famous motet In hydraulis -- we know that Busnois was a musician in the court of Charles the Bold. Busnois' reputation as a composer among his contemporaries was exceeded only by that of Ockeghem, with whom Busnois may have studied. Contemporary composers and poets honored Busnois by including his name in a number of texts and poems, among which is Loyset Compère's motet Omnium bonorum plena, in which Busnois is praised as one of the "masters of song."

Indeed it is Busnois' songs that are probably his most original works, despite their adherence to the poetic formes fixes that were cultivated widely during the fifteenth century: rondeau, bergerette, and ballade. Each type of poem features strict patterns of rhyme and syllabic structure that are reflected musically in the alternation and repetition of two principal sections of music. The songs presented by the Orlando Consort represent all three of the major formes fixes and display the subtleness of Busnois' melodies and the perfection of his counterpoint. Among the chansons included on the recording is a bergerette whose text reveals something about Busnois' personal life: Ja que li ne s'i attende. This is one of four songs by Busnois whose texts refer directly to Jacqueline d'Hacqueville, the wife of a Parisian councilor, with whom Busnois apparently had a romantic dalliance. In the case of Ja que li ne s'i attende, the first four words of the first line of text (Ja que li ne) together make up the first name of Busnois' beloved.

The centerpiece of the recording is Busnois' Missa O Crux lignum, one of only two masses that can be securely attributed to the composer. Busnois' setting of the five major items of the Catholic mass Ordinary -- Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus (with a separate track for the Benedictus section), and Agnus -- is constructed as a typical cantus firmus mass of the time: The melody of the hymn O Crux lignum is placed in the tenor voice in drawn-out notes, while the other voices weave polyphony around it. The polyphonic mass is truly the most elaborate musical form of the period, with a changing variety of meters, voice pairings, and tempo changes, which enliven the complex polyphonic interaction of the four voices. Busnois' mass stands out from its contemporaries in its subtle use of imitation to organize the strands of polyphony, and his frequent passages of parallel thirds and sixths to soften its severity.

The fine performances of the Orlando Consort bring to life Busnois' exquisite music, which has been underrepresented in recent recordings. The close blend of voices in the ensemble is well-suited to Busnois' complex and subtle pieces.

Deborah Kauffman

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