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O Gemma Lux [Import]

Guillaume Dufay , Huelgas Ensemble , Paul Van Nevel Audio CD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Price: $40.21 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Details

  • Performer: Guillaume Dufay, Huelgas Ensemble, Paul Van Nevel
  • Audio CD (June 13, 2000)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Harmonia Mundi Fr.
  • ASIN: B00004TC4W
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #395,543 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Guillaume Dufay: Vasilissa ergo gaude
2. Guillaume Dufay: O sancte Sebastiane
3. Guillaume Dufay: O Gemma, Lux es speculum
4. Guillaume Dufay: Apostolo glorioso
5. Guillaume Dufay: Rite majorem Jacobus
6. Guillaume Dufay: Ecclesie militantis
7. Guillaume Dufay: Balsamus et munda cera
8. Guillaume Dufay: Supremum est mortailbus
9. Guillaume Dufay: Nuper rosarum flores
10. Guillaume Dufay: Salve flos tusce gentis
11. Guillaume Dufay: magnanime gentes laudes
12. Guillaume Dufay: Fulgen iubar ecclesiae dei
13. Guillaume Dufay: Moribus et genere

Editorial Reviews

Music appreciation textbooks and timelines in magazines often name Guillaume Dufay as the first great composer of the European Renaissance, but one might equally call him the last great composer of the Middle Ages. This disc presents all 13 of Dufay's isorhythmic motets--the final masterpieces of a very medieval-minded genre. During the Middle Ages, music was considered a science (just like mathematics), and isorhythmic motets are constructed according to strict arithmetical principles. In addition, each voice generally has a different text, while the fundamental voice (called the tenor) usually has no text at all and is often (as here) performed by instruments. As this description might indicate, isorhythmic motets are among the most intellectualized and least emotive works in the entire pre-20th century repertory--yet Paul van Nevel and the Huelgas Ensemble achieve an impressive range of expression from such seemingly poker-faced music. Apostolo glorioso (composed for the consecration of a church) and Ecclesie militantis (written for the coronation of a Pope), performed by choir and (antique) brass, are ornate and imposing, while Magnanime gentes laudes, done by one soprano, one tenor, and one trombone doubled by recorder, is intimate and delicate. The director's excellent program notes explain how isorhythmic motets are constructed and what to listen for. Van Nevel also offers wise advice: Don't listen to this disc straight through--rather, listen carefully to one or two motets several times until you recognize the structural markers, then move on to other motets later. Following that advice will make this CD somewhat more work than most, but the listener's effort will be richly repaid by these splendid performances. --Matthew Westphal

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect melting of voices and instruments May 13, 2001
By A Customer
There are not much recordings of Dufay's splendid music, the most impressive are surely some chansons scattered on differents discs of Gothic Voices. Regarding motets, there are some interesting recordings by Pomerium and Hilliard Ensemble. All three feature, among other highlights, the marvellous motets "Nuper rosarum", "Alma redemtoris mater" and "Ecclesiae militans". I would say that this recording is the best of the three: in the Huelgas Ensemble's recording you may feel best the medieval -exotic- caracter of these isorythmic motets, as for example their structural clearness and complexity as well as harmonic surprises which seem to come from another planet. The other recordings, although technically perfect as well, tend to smoothen these essential caracteristics. Although this music is caracterized by a mathematical rationalism, I find it very emotional, especially in the mentioned pieces with their monumentality complying with the special historic occasions. Huelgas expresses these emotional side perfectly, in part due to the perfect interweaving of the instrumental and vocal parts (normally I am not a fan of instrumental parts in this kind of music, here it's different). With this recording together with Gothic Voices' excellent chanson recordings you may feel why Dufay is one of the greatest composers ever.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By Sator
This is definitely one of van Nevel's finest recordings - and that is praise indeed for he has made many fine ones. What an excellent idea to bring together these isorythmic motets like this. I can scarcely think of a finer place to start with Dufay than here with all the wonderfully poetic, expressive lyrical communicativeness that the Huelgas Ensemble unfailingly brings to Renaissance polyphony.

When I call Dufay a 'Renaissance' composer this is the result of degree of musical complexity displayed in his music which is so remarkably advanced that the term 'Medieval' sits rather poorly with him, although there is still the argument that he is the last great Medieval composer rather than the first Renaissance one. In fact if the complexity of his musical thought is a way of gauging things, then Dufay deserves to be called a Renaissance man more than Nikolaus Copernicus whose basis for claiming that the sun was the center of the solar system was in fact because he was part of a sun-cult that felt that the sun was so God-like that it HAD to be the center, even though the model of the solar system with the planets circling the sun in circular orbit mathematically fails pretty miserably compared with having the sun going around the Earth in circular orbit: You have to have the planets circling elliptically for that 'post-Copernican' model to work at all. Clearly we all need to do some rethinking about the history of these times with this CD being a perfect place to start.

An isorhythm (iso=same) consists of an order of durations or rhythms, known as the 'talea' (literally "cutting"), which is repeated within a tenor melody whose pitch content known as the 'color', varied from the talea.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Majestic music. Not to be missed July 8, 2006
By Russ
The thirteen isorhythmic motets of Guillaume Dufay (c. 1400-1474) mark a high point, as well as a turning point, in Early Music. According to the CD notes, an isorhythmic motet "is a composition in which a rhythmic formula, or period, is constantly repeated in one or more parts while the melodic material changes." These works were composed over a period of twenty years during the first half of Dufay's career and are played in chronological order on this CD, so that the listener can appreciate the development of Dufay's style.

Much in the same way that it can be argued that Mahler took the symphony to the max, Dufay uses the models of the previous generation (ex. Machaut) and elevates the material to such a level that a nothing new really can be added. Dufay's subsequent compositions took off a different direction, and can probably be considered the first music of the Renaissance. It is fascinating to note the importance of proportion within these works. The conductor, Paul Van Nevel, notes "Not a single change in tempo has been applied so as not to cause any imbalance in the mathematical ratios."

But don't worry; you don't even have to be good at math to enjoy these beautiful, majestic works. Although the texture can get a little complicated (there can be up to three different texts being sung simultaneously), there is a certain permeating splendor to these works that is immediately accessible. The motet "Salve flos Tusce gentis" is among the most beautiful pieces of music I have heard - in the entire history of music. Despite the immediate accessibility of these pieces, my appreciation grows upon each listen.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dufay motets with first rate singing. December 26, 2012
Verified Purchase
Beautifully recorded choral singing by an excellent ensemble. Dufay deserves his reputation as the musical "king" of the Renaissance. Highly recommended.
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