Pierre de la RUE (c.1450-1518)
Missa de septem doloribus [55:12]
Missa Ave Maria [37:36]
Vespera [30:20]
Missa Sub tuum praesidium [24:44]
Pourquoy tant me fault il [2:07]
Il viendra le jour desire [2:06]
Pourquoy non ne veuil je morir [2:43]
Doleo super te [2:25]
Missa Alleluia [30:28]
Capilla Flamenca/Dirk Snellings (director) with Psallentes/Hendrick Vanden Abeele (artistic director) on CDs 1 and 2
rec. CD1 – October 2001 and January 2002, Kapel van het lers College, Leuven, Belgium. CD2 – December 2004–January 2005, Église Saint-Jean, Beaufays, Belgium. CD3 – 1996, Kapel van het lers College, Leuven, Belgium (Missa Alleluia); June-July 2005, Parkabdij, Leuven, Belgium (Pourquoy tant me fault il, Il viendra le jour desire, Pourquoy non ne veuil je morir, Doleo super te): March 2011, Hervormde Kerk, Bunnik, Netherlands (Missa Sub tuum praesidium)
Texts and translations
MUSIQUE EN WALLONIE MEW 1159 [3 CDs: 55:12 + 67:56 + 64:33]
This 3 CD box set is very largely a reissue of three single Musique en Wallonie discs: MEW 0207 0633 and 0525. They were recorded between 1996 and 2005 but with one important exception. In March 2011 Capilla Flamenca taped Missa Sub tuum praesidium, in its world première recording. Given this last detail, it might be wise not to consider this as a straight reissue, as it clearly isn’t.
Pierre de la Rue was very probably born in Tournai around 1450. His earliest years are shrouded in obscurity but, as the booklet notes make clear, by 1492 he was working in the chapel of Maximilian, future Holy Roman Emperor. The court for which de la Rue worked was highly musical, and the surviving Habsburg-Burgundian music manuscripts contain almost all his music. Several are illustrated in the beautifully produced booklet but be careful if you try to open it flat, as the glue binding will disobligingly unstick itself.
Naturally de la Rue followed the court, which was peripatetic. He travelled to Germany and to Spain, and when Philip the Fair, Maximilian’s son, came of age the court followed him abroad. On his unexpected death the court returned to the Low Countries.
The three CDs present an overview of Pierre de la Rue’s compositions during these years. Unsurprisingly there is concentration on Marian masses. There are four masses, five motets, a Magnificat and three chansons. Missa de septem doloribus is a five- voice setting with plainchant propers inserted. Ingeniously he also borrowed a phrase from Josquin’s Ave Maria virgo serena and gives it to the first tenor. Missa Ave Maria is a late work, and whilst it’s hard to date, may have come from his last decade. Essentially for four voices, de la Rue springs a surprise and introduces a fifth in the Credo and this gives opportunities for greater amplitude. Its celebratory nature cannot be the only reason why this Mass remained so popular. Rather, in addition, it’s the breadth of utterance, and the richness of the setting that demands rehearing. Missa Sub tuum praesidium is, by contrast, from the early part of his compositional career. It’s based on a well known Marian antiphon of the time, and de la Rue’s penchant for variation is quite audible throughout. An even more extensive setting comes via Missa Alleluia which sports five voices. It’s an especially richly textured work, somewhat reminiscent of Josquin whom we know de la Rue admired, but independent of this possible model in respect of its clever use of counterpoint and specific motivic writing.
The various Motets and the Magnificat all confirm to de la Rue’s strongest qualities. They reveal strong melodic gifts, intelligent use of imitation, a willingness to explore the upper and lower ranges of the voice parts without fear, and unselfconsciousness when it comes to setting melancholy texts. Such a case is Doleo super te, which is starkly expressive in its gravity.
Capilla Flamenca, directed by Dirk Snellings, prove the best possible ambassadors for this and Flemish music in general. Their intonation is excellent, and vocal quality is a given. The instrumental accompaniments are both apposite and considered. The recording quality is resonant but not too much so.
Jonathan Woolf
Strong melodic gifts, intelligent use of imitation and unselfconsciousness setting of melancholy texts.