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Ockeghem: Missa "De plus en plus"; Chansons

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 8, 2002
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Missa 'De plus en plus', for 4 voices: Kyrie
  2. Missa 'De plus en plus', for 4 voices: Gloria
  3. Missa 'De plus en plus', for 4 voices: Credo
  4. Missa 'De plus en plus', for 4 voices: Sanctus
  5. Missa 'De plus en plus', for 4 voices: Agnus Dei
  6. Presque transi, chanson for 3 voices
  7. Prenez sur moi, chanson for 3 voices
  8. Alius discantus super 'O rosa bella', for 2 voices (1 part by Ockeghem, 1 part by Giustiniani)
  9. Aultre Venus estes, chanson for 3 voices
  10. S'elle m'amera/Petite camusette, chanson for 4 voices
  11. Tant fuz gentement resjouy, chanson for 3 voices


Product Details

  • Composer: Johannes Ockeghem
  • Audio CD (October 8, 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Archiv Produktion
  • ASIN: B00006L3IC
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #669,774 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
This long neglected cd is one of the favorites in my Renaissance collection.
It comprises two parts: the mass, with the traditional pieces (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus) and six profane love songs in Old French and Italian.
The singers are the American (?) Orlando Consort, four men with outstanding voices.
What makes this recording truly remarkable is the second part, in which the countertenors (male altos) play a prominent role.
The main singing technique is the highly complex and refined canon: while the countertenor sings the couplets, the other singers simultaneously sing the refrain, weaving together a tapestry of sound that is truly enthralling in its melodic richness and rhythm.
The highlight of this recording is the last piece, a Great Lament for the death of Ockeghem's teacher: Burgundian composer Jean Binchois. This song, which belongs more to the Middle Ages than the Renaissance in character, is an absolute masterwork which makes Desprez's own lament for the death of Ockeghem sound mediocre indeed. It is both immensely sorrowful and immensely dignified, a combination of sentiments we rarely, if ever, encounter in our own age, in which people tend to express their grief in a most uncivilized way.
The only defect that I could find in this marvelous performance is the strange pronunciation of the Latin pieces. The oo sound of say, "agnus" is pronounced like an i in English "limp". My guess is that this is a reconstruction of the French pronunciation of ecclesiatical Latin at the time but I could find no confirmation in the accompanying booklet.
This is a long cd with about one hour of delightful music. The booklet contains all the lyrics and their translation into German,(modern)French and English.
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ORLANDO OFFERS AN OLYMPIAN OCKEGHEM!

For many years the music of Johannes Ockeghem (c.1410-97)was considered to provide little more than intellectual treats for highly educated musicians. Now that most of his music is published, however, it can be performed and assessed in an entirely new light. Ockeghem enjoyed a stellar reputation among his peers as well as his employers. Upon his death Josquin Desprez composed a lament entitled "Deploration sur la mort d'Ockeghem" that is considered a masterpiece.

To modern ears, his music is characterized by irregular flowing rhythms that are more the result of counterpoint, low velvety textures from the male choir and a subtle use of imitation. His music is amazing for its freedom, imagination and resourcefulness with which he handled compositional procedures. Each voice is treated equally and the word-painting of the text marks him as one of music's great innovators. Ockeghem tempered the true steel of his technique in the white-hot inspiration of Dufay and Dunstable. Theirs was the model he followed, and if his mature work sounds richer than theirs, it is because instrumentally supported vocal lines were being gradually modifed in order to make way for sonorous choral harmony, and not because he invented ( as is often claimed) a polyphonic texture knit together by constant melodic imitation.

As one might expect this music presents a challenge to vocal ensembles specializing in Renaissance sacred music. For it presents a featureless surface, with lengthy passages of polyphony unmarked by points of imitation or anything else. It contains densely mathematical hidden structures that even in Ockeghem's time would have presented difficulties not only for the performers but also for the listener's skills.
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I'm still a novice in the realm of Renaissance polyphony, but I'm getting there. Ockeghem is becoming a favorite, along with Pierre de la Rue and Jacob Obrecht. I was working on collecting Obrecht and just browsing (lusting) when this CD popped up for $7.50 (including shipping) used, a price well below other listings. It's lovely--beautiful harmonies by one of the great masters of the genre, performed with clarity and precision by an outstanding ensemble (thanks to "Giordano Bruno" for recommending other performances by them).
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Format: Audio CD
Agreed with NorthernLights' review above -- while the mass (Missa De plus en plus) is beautiful, the highlight of this album is the final track, the lament -- ten minutes of melancholy bliss.

Another example of "unusual" pronunciation is in the 'Gloria in Excelsis Deo' which starts out the Gloria movement of the mass: the final 's' in 'Excelsis' is not pronounced, reminiscent of (modern) French.

As in all their work, the Orlandos do a superb job across the board -- tuning, timing, phrasing, etc.

One correction: the Orlandos are all Brits, not American.
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