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Gombert: Magnificat I / Salve Regina / Credo / Tulerunt Dominum

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Nicolas Gombert was a musical genius whose emotional complexity allowed him to write music unlike that of any other Renaissance composer. A member of the generation between Josquin and Palestrina, he took the polyphonic style to its highest state of perfe
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Product Details

  • Performer: Oxford Camerata
  • Conductor: Jeremy Summerly
  • Composer: Nicolas Gombert
  • Audio CD (January 17, 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B000CEVU4Y
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #424,111 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David L. Nold on July 12, 2008
Format: Audio CD
What a wonderful time to be a music collector. This selection of pieces written by Nicolas Gombert in the sixteenth century is, in my most humble opinion, as brilliant, as intense, as achingly, heartbreakingly deep and beautiful as an music I have ever heard. The best music, the best art, it seems to me, travels directly from the soul of the artist to the soul of the recipient. Beethoven's late quartets come to mind. What we have in Nicolas Gombert is a deeply troubled artist of the absolute highest order. I'd like to focus on one piece in particular: the Media Vita (In the midst of life we are in death). I guess I can best describe it as Renaissance blues. Written for the choir, it starts rather quietly and then builds into a kind of storm of lamentation, wave after wave continuously building and then cascading down into chords of unbelievable beauty and complexity. There are no verses. It just continues like this for 7 minutes and 11 seconds. The music is passed back and forth between the various voices weaving together and then letting go. Was Gombert writing this music with God alone as his intended audience?

The rest of this cd contains music just as brilliant though nothing quite like the Media Vita. The performances by the Oxford Camerata under the direction of Jeremy Summerly are uniformly excellent. I have and love recordings by the Tallis Scholars, the Sixteen and the others. The Camerata need not take a back seat to any of them. It seems to me that, at times, Renaissance choral music is peformed so that the beauty of the music is highlighted at the expense of the emotion of the music. Summerly lets the voices "lean in" to the music when appropriate with judicious use of vibrato and dynamics.
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Format: Audio CD
If you like restraint and reserve in your Renaissance performance, don't buy this disc; if you like brilliance , power , a gale force attitude to caution, with no loss in finesse, do. The Oxford Camerata 'go for' this music.This is committed singing. I have read several learned sources which contended that while Gombert wrote expertly dense polyphony it tended to be at the expense of textual expression.There are several examples on this disc where he is almost(only almost)doing the opposite."Super Flumina Babylonis" could not be called typical Gombert.It is written in a more Josquinian style,with the composer even allowing himself a few isolated moments of duet.It ends with a perfect major cadence, perfect for a Mozart sonata, but the Renaissance ear,and indeed the modern one attuned to Renaissance norms, would find it rather uncomfortable, even disturbing."In terra aliena" are the words of the unhappy exiles being expressed in music at this point.Gombert again slows things down during his "stand alone" Credo.I do think this is the Renaissance setting of the "Incarnatus" section which most, of all I have heard, reminds me of Bach's insuperable setting in his B minor Mass, and here again Gombert does not resort to a dense weave. Gombert did not just excel at "laying it on with a trowel".Indeed, I believe the comparisons with Bach go some way further.Both composers were capable of the most deeply felt tenderness or effulgence of expression, sometimes even both at once.In "In Media Vita" Gombert does subject us to the full glory of his polyphonic technique, while, I believe, expressing the text as never before. It is particularly here (as well as in the "Credo") that Jeremy Summerly encourages his group of fine singers to let the music freely out.Read more ›
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For this performance, the Oxford Camerata included sixteen singers, the sopranos and altos all women. However, since most of the music on the CD is 8-part, they were singing two-on-a-part most of the time, and that, dear reader is how it should be, unless the voices are vituosic enough to sing one-on-a-part. The result is that this is one of the Camerata's best recordings, perhaps their best ever. Their sheer 'sound' is beautifully full and warm, their tuning is transparent (i.e. good), and their ensemble is pointed. Gombert's music can 'survive' a lot of fullness of timbre; unlike his predecessor Josquin, Gombert wasn't disposed to express his musical thoughts by 'thinning' the parts, inserting duets and trios, etc. When he wrote for six or eight voices, all the singers were singing most of the time. Of the various available recordings of Gombert, this is probably the one that sets the standard of excellence of vocal production.

On the down side, however, there's a lack of rhythmic boldness about this and almost every performance by the Oxford Camerata. It's not that every tempo on this CD is too slow, but when taken one after another, the whole is somewhat sober-sided. It has to be the conductor, Jeremy Summerly. I get the feeling that he's never noticed a 'cross-rhythm' or failed to notice a bar-line. But the problem is that There Are NO Bar-lines in This Music! But ...

... recently I reviewed a CD titled "Vivat Rex!" -- motets by Jean Mouton, a composer almost contemporary with Nicolas Gombert (1495-1560) -- sung by an American 'community chorus' of fourteen men, who call themselves "The Suspicious Cheese Lords.
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