Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Pierre De La RUE (1460?-1518)
Heinrich ISAAC (ca. 1450-1517)
Missa pro defunctis [22.27]
Missa carminum [21.55]
Mitgleider des Rundunk-Kinderchors Berlin, Paul Funk
Capella Lipsiensis, Diethrich Knothe
Rec: 1972.
BERLIN CLASSICS 0031022BC [44.22]

This recording includes two works by Flemish composers of the 15th and 16th centuries, Pierre de la Rue and Heinrich Isaac, contemporaries of the great Flemish composer Josquin des Prez.

Heinrich Isaac worked in many countries, and was influenced by the variegated musical traditions of the time. From his native Netherlands, he travelled to, and worked in, both Florence and Vienna. His mass, Missa Carminum, is based on popular songs which he wove into the texture of his polyphonic vocal music.

Pierre de la Rue also travelled, to the court of Burgundy, where he was exposed to Spanish music, and where he met Josquin des Prez. His requiem on this recording is a unique work, where the melodies are focused on the lower registers. This makes for an interesting texture, as the two to five parts, sing their intricate counterpoint.

Both of these works come from a time when plainchant was changing and becoming more melodic - one can hear the influence of Gregorian chant, which sometimes serves as a base for the more varied melodies.

Parts of this recording are very difficult to listen to. The singers, especially the basses, use a vibrato that is simply annoying. There are sections where the singers' parts move relatively quickly, and the vibrato, mixed with these melodies, makes it impossible to follow the music. In addition, the basses are much too present in the mix - in the de la Rue requiem, they are the "lead" voices. They dominate the recording, giving it a balance that sounds incorrect. The final result is a disagreeable, aggressive sound that does not do justice to the music.

This 1970s recording disappoints by its overuse of vibrato and the uneven mix, which muddles music that relies for its strength on clarity of lines and of their interaction.

Kirk McElhearn


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