This disc is volume
one of a planned series of four which
will take in requiems from the earliest
complete surviving one (that of Ockeghem)
to one written especially for the series
by Pierre Bartholomée. The performers
on each disc will be the Laudantes Consort
under their founder Guy Janssens. They
are a group of singers and instrumentalists
whose work is characterised by great
flexibility; each work being performed
by an ensemble suitable for the period
of the piece. On this disc, the consort
is reduced to an ensemble of twelve
singers with a mixture of men and women
on the alto part.
is relatively short and, like many early
Requiem settings, includes only a small
selection of the ordinary and the propers.
Ockeghem offers just the Introit, Kyrie,
Gradual, Tract and Offertory. But even
here, he is distinctive because the
text is based on the pre-council of
Trent mass so that Ockeghem sets text
from Psalm 22 (Si ambulem in medio
umbrae mortis) for the Gradual and
Sicut Cervus for the Tract. Both
of these texts reflect the influence
of the Sarum Rite, developed at Salisbury
Though the mass is
polyphonic, plainchant is never very
far away; in the Introit the cantus
firmus is clearly recognisable. Ockeghem
varies the number of voices used according
to the expressive needs of the text,
meaning that the work is appreciated
as a well structured series of episodes
rather than a choral entity.
The performance by
the Laudantes Consort reflects this,
with passages being taken by solo voices.
The group have an excellent blend and
unanimity of purpose. They make a slightly
edgy, focused sound which is just right
for this period of music. Ockeghem's
vocal lines flow naturally and the singers
blend beautifully where necessary, whilst
keeping the various lines distinct and
Any group which plans
to record such a diverse range of Requiem
settings must think clearly about the
sort of sound they want to make in each
work. The Laudantes Consort have obviously
done this, so that in Lassus's Requiem
they produce a more choral blend, with
slightly less edge, which is apt for
the piece, though they retain some of
their distinctive timbre.
The Lassus setting
is his Missa pro Defunctis a 5
published in 1589, but the work probably
dates from 1578 and may even be earlier.
The text of the Tract, Absolve Domine,
reflects the decisions of the Council
of Trent, which finished in 1563.
The Requiem has some
slightly archaic turns of phrase, but
is a far more choral work than the Ockeghem.
Lassus sets six movements of the mass,
Introit, Kyrie Tract (Absolve Domine),
Offertory, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Communion.
Janssens and his choir
focus on the absolute beauty and accuracy
of the vocal lines. They don't try to
'do' anything to the piece, simply allowing
the music to speak for itself. This
approach works very well. Whilst the
Requiem is by no means Lassus's best
known work, it is an impressive and
In both works, Janssens’
speeds are moderate and apt; the choir
respond well to his direction and the
results have all the hallmarks of an
experienced and well-honed group.
The CD booklet includes
an excellent article on the pieces performed
as well as texts and translations.
Neither Requiem is
common on disc. Having a recording of
the Ockeghem which uses just one voice
to a part is probably highly desirable.
But this disc, coupling two fine early
Requiems, has much to recommend it.
The Laudantes Consort combine musical
values with expressiveness and a good
feeling for the different timbres and
vocal textures required.