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Johannes OCKEGHEM (c. 1420-1497)
Alma Redemptoris Mater [5.14]
S'elle M’amera/Petite Camusette [3.49]
Ma Maistresse [6.27]
Fors Seulement [8.09]
Offertorium (from Requiem) [8.17]
Kyrie (from Missa 'Caput') [3.09]
Gloria (from Missa 'Prolationum') [7.09]
Credo (from Missa 'L'homme Armé') [6.39]
Sanctus (from Missa 'Mi-Mi') [3.38]
Benedictus (from Missa 'Mi-Mi') [2.34]
Agnus Dei (from Missa 'De plus en plus') [5.37]
Intemerata Dei Mater [5.53]
The Clerks Group/Edward Wickham
rec. St Andrew’s Church, West Wratting, 11-12 April 1994 (1, 9, 10), 22-24 February 1999 (2, 3, 12), 5-6 May 1996 (4, 5), 6-7 November 1997 (6), 24-25 February 1995 (7), 1, 23 February 1999 (8), 30-31 October 1995 (11)
GAUDEAMUS CD GAM 357 [66.41] 

Ockeghem is a composer who has been looked up to and lauded for his amazing polyphonic craftsmanship, both during his own day and throughout the ages. However, as the sleeve-notes point out, there has always been more discussion about him than actual performances of his music. 

This disc from Gaudeamus demonstrates the great variety of his compositions, from the polyphonic complexities of, for example, his Intemerata Dei Mater - listen to that glorious final “Amen” - through to the beautiful simplicity of the rondeau Fors Seulement, and contains works ranging from movements from his Masses through to songs - such as the lively and delightful S'elle M’amera and ensuing Ma Maistresse. Ockeghem enjoyed playing about with musical conventions and exploring the harmonic possibilities that changing and moving things about gave - for example, moving the cantus firmus from the tenor into bass part, a technique he employs in, amongst other works, his Missa Caput. In the Kyrie from Missa Caput on this disc one can hear the rather strange but beautiful sound that that this transposition creates. It also appears in his Missa 'L'homme Arms’, an early example of a mass based on a street song, of which the Credo is included here. 

This is a fascinating disc. It very effectively presents various facets of a masterful and intriguing composer, through whose innovations, rhetorical devices and bizarre compositional exercises shines a wonderful sense of beauty and spirituality. The works are sublime, and the singing from The Clerks Group, directed by Edward Wickham, is beyond reproach – their enunciation is excellent. They achieve both a perfect balance, and a fine clarity in the effortlessly floating individual voice-lines, and they perform with conviction, confidence and a wonderful sense of radiance. 

Em Marshall 

 

 

 


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