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
[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.
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