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Music for St James the Greater Import

6 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, June 9, 1998
$44.89 $3.13

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Editorial Reviews

"The moon of all music, and the light of all singers," was how one contemporary observer described the illustrious 15th-century French composer Guillaume Dufay. Dufay not only enjoyed great acclaim as a musician, but he also enjoyed an unusually long life--he died at 74--which he spent in service to several noble patrons in Italy and as canon of Cambrai Cathedral in France. His music exudes an amazing richness and vitality, due as much to its luminous harmonic writing as to its lively, complex rhythms. The veneration of St. James was of enormous importance in the Middle Ages, signified by the thousands of pilgrimages to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Dufay's Mass is unusual and remarkable for its stylistic diversity, a feature of the work that's prompted much musicological investigation. For most of us, however, the sheer beauty of the music--exemplified in these resplendent performances--speaks for itself. --David Vernier

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Mass For Saint James The Greater: Introit
  2. Mass For Saint James The Greater: Kyrie
  3. Mass For Saint James The Greater: Gloria
  4. Mass For Saint James The Greater: Alleluia
  5. Mass For Saint James The Greater: Credo
  6. Mass For Saint James The Greater: Offertory
  7. Mass For Saint James The Greater: Sanctus
  8. Mass For Saint James The Greater: Agnus Dei
  9. Mass For Saint James The Greater: Communio
  10. Rite majorem Jacobum canamus - Arcibus summis miseri reclusi
  11. Balsamus et munda cera
  12. Gloria
  13. Credo
  14. Apostolo glorioso

Product Details

  • Performer: Guillaume Dufay, Andrew Kirkman, Binchois Consort
  • Audio CD (June 9, 1998)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Hyperion UK
  • ASIN: B000007SZI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #573,280 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Eddie Konczal on February 2, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Guillaume Dufay (c. 1397-1474) was arguably the dominant composer of the 15th century, and a crucial figure in music history. Dufay successfully blended the two major musical developments of the early 15th century - the imperfect consonances (3rds and 6ths) popularized by English composers such as Dunstable, and the rhythmic advances of Continental composers such as Ciconia - thus forging a new style that would become the foundation of Renaissance music. Dufay mastered both sacred and secular forms, and directly influenced younger contemporaries such as Ockeghem and Busnoys. Many musicologists credit later composers, such as Josquin or Obrecht, with developing the "learned style" of pervasive imitation that dominated Renaissance polyphony. However, the elements of the learned style had their genesis - however elementary - in the music of Dufay.

"The Mass for St. James the Greater" is an early Dufay plenary Mass (c. 1427), which includes not only the movements of the Mass Ordinary (Gloria, Kyrie, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei) but also the Proper movements (Introit, Alleluia, Offertory and Communio). Scholars have identified the Communio as the first documented use of "fauxbourdon" - a quasi-improvisatory technique that supported the highest voice with parallel first inversion chords, thereby emulating the "sweet sound" of the English composers.

The Binchois Consort, led by Andrew Kirkman, performs not only the entire Mass for St. James the Greater, but associated motets ("Rite majorem Jacobum" and "Apostolo Glorioso") from approximately the same period. The Mass is not top-shelf Dufay, but instead captures the composer in a formative, developmental phase.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gio on February 2, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It's interesting how hard it is to think about evolution without lapsing into a discourse of Progress - of 'Entwicklung', development, improvement. But the bottom line of evolution is contingent and constant change, not improvement. You, dear reader, are no more highly evolved than a green sea turtle, nor any more complex than an army ant; you simply value your own complexity disproportionately.

The history of music also suffers from a discourse of 'development'. Perceptive listeners can still be trapped in the notion that the imitative counterpoint of Josquin is more 'advanced' than the seldom-imitative polytextual polyphony of Dufay. Quatsch! Nobody has ever written more 'advanced' music than Dufay... not Josquin, not Bach, not Beethoven, not Wagner, not even Brian Wilson. You have only your two ears, you know, through which all the ambient sound funnels to your brain, and 'what you hear is what you hear.'

Music in Europe did CHANGE rather dramatically in the short span of time between Guillaume Dufay (1400-1474) and Josquin Desprez (1455-1521). The most easily quantifiable change was the shift in 'prolations', from preponderantly "perfect" (triple) tempi to "imperfect" (duple) tempi. You can hear that change by comparing any performance you have of Dufay to any of Josquin's disciples like Mouton or Willaert. That change was symptomatic of a change in the most basic mode of "hearing" music, which I can describe as a change from Time to Space. The aesthetic core of Dufay's music is the passage of Time; one hears it 'horizontally' - in the flow of Time captured as immediate sensual perceptions. The consummate craft of Dufay's music is its rhythmic inventiveness. By comparison, Josquin's music is 'all about' melody, which is a sort of derived experience based on Memory.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Micky on October 11, 2000
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This mass is not popular. However, the mixture of medieval and Renaissance styles is really beautiful. This is certainly a Dufay's music: deep, warm, mesmeric, and confortable. Kirkman's performance is also unbelievable. This is one of the best recordings of Dufay's.
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