Loyset COMPÈRE (c.1445–1518) Magnificat, Motets and Chansons Magnificat primi toni [12:49] Tant ay d’ennuy / O vos omnes [8:17] Dictes moy toutes voz pensées [4:35] Une plaisant fillette ung matin se leva [2:43] Vous me faites morir d’envie [6:17] Ung franc archier [7:08] Ne doibt on prendre quant on donne [5:03] Au travail suis sans espoir de confort [6:24] Mes pensées
ne me lessent une heure [11:41] O bone Jesu (attributed to Compère) [3:23]
The Orlando Consort [Matthew Venner (countertenor); Mark Dobell, Angus
Smith (tenor); Donald Greig (baritone)]
rec. St John the Baptist, Loughton, Essex, 24-27 September 2013. DDD
Texts and translations included HYPERION CDA68069 [68:20]
Reviewed as 24/96 download from hyperion-records.co.uk.
Also available on CD and as mp3 and 16-bit downloads, all with pdf booklet.
All but one of the works here, including the opening
Magnificat, are receiving their only recording in the current
catalogue. Scan the other currently available recordings and the Gramophone
reviews database or our own search engines and you won’t find that there
are or have been too many other recordings of Compère's music. Of these
one of the most significant also came from the Orlando Consort, back
in 1994, on Metronome METCD1002. That earlier recording was billed
as Christmas Music, perhaps to encourage purchasers – though it contains
the Christmas Mass Hodie nobis de virgine, that’s the only concrete
link with the season.
On other recordings Compère makes a walk-on entrance, as on budget-price
Hyperion Helios CDH55423 – DL
News 2013/14 – where his Omnium bonorum plena features on
a programme centred on Dufay’s Missa Puisque je vis. That Hyperion
recording is recommendable not least for Compère’s contribution, as
also is a Tallis Scholars CD where his Dictes moy toutes voz pensées
accompanies music by another underrated composer, Jean Mouton, including
his Mass based on that tune (Gimell CDGIM047 – review,
Roundup January 2010 and DL
If for no other reason, then, this latest offering from the Orlando
Consort is very worthwhile for the gaps which it fills in the catalogue,
but it’s much more than that.
The four-part Magnificat, probably composed during Compère’s
time in Milan, is now thought to date from well before the time of Josquin
and Obrecht, whose dates have been recalculated, so it’s no longer necessary
to regard this as the work of a lesser contemporary but rather as a
precursor of Josquin’s style. Hyperion are even a little on the conservative
side in listing Compère’s birth: other sources give it as c.1440.
It’s an understated rather than a florid setting, the Virgin Mary as
a quiet handmaid of the Lord rather than overflowing with emotion, and
it’s to the credit of the Orlando singers that they don’t try to make
it more ‘impressive’. There’s medieval music a-plenty for late night
de-stressing and this Magnificat joins the list.
The second work is a dual-texted chanson and motet: the upper
voices sing a lament on the theme of the fickleness of Fortune while
the bassus sings the words ‘O all ye that pass by, look and see
if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow’, from the Lamentations of
Jeremiah and used in the Improperia or Reproaches on Good
Friday. A not uncommon feature of medieval music – some pieces even
have three texts – it may be perplexing for modern listeners but works
particularly well on this occasion, no small thanks again to the quality
of the singing.
There’s a recording of Compère’s Passiontide music from Odehecaton and
Paolo da Col, on a Cantus recording: his setting of the Officium
de Cruce is coupled with music by Josquin, Obrecht and Weerbecke
– CD or download from
Amazon UK; sample/stream from Qobuz.
Like the Orlando Consort’s Magnificat and O vos omnes,
the performance is rather cool, but that’s preferable to making the
music sound like Gesualdo long before his time.
Most of the rest of the programme consists of Compère’s vernacular chansons.
Some of these, too, are pensive in nature, as in Dictes moy toutes
voz pensées (track 3). The Consort are equally at home here and
in the livelier chansons, as on the next track in Une plaisant fillette
ung matin se leva – the old story of a girl got in trouble by a
man at arms. In these pieces they show us an appropriately forthright
The final piece, O bone Jesu, was recorded long ago on a classic
album from David Munrow and his Early Music Consort of London, The
Art of the Netherlands. (Erato/Virgin 6284972, 2 CDs, budget-price).
Though made in the comparative infancy of the rediscovery of the music
of the period, that remains an essential recording and I wouldn’t wish
to be without it or most of the other recordings from that group. The
Orlando Consort give the motet a little more time to breathe, thereby
making it less immediate in appeal but more reflective and ending the
programme in the quiet manner in which they began with the Magnificat.
If you would like to sample this track complete, it’s there for the
asking on the Hyperion web page or as part of their free download
sampler for August 2015.
The Hyperion recording is very good in 24-bit format. It won’t break
the bank at £12.00 but I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed with
the ‘ordinary’ 16-bit (£7.99) or the CD (£10.50). The booklet is well
up to Hyperion’s high standards though the translation sometimes bowdlerises
the original: cul in Une plaisante fillette, for example,
I think refers to a more intimate part of the anatomy than the backside.
I suspect, too, that there’s an indelicate reference in the refrain
of this chanson, entre deuz huis, literally between two
doors, as translated in the booklet. Huis is an archaic word
for door, as in the expression still current, huis clos, in private,
but there may be more to it here.
Not, perhaps, the ideal introduction for those wishing to become interested
in the music of this period, then – for that you might be better to
turn to one of the many recordings which Gothic Voices made for Hyperion,
now reissued on their budget Helios label – but well worthwhile for
lovers of Josquin who want to know what went immediately before.
Founding Editor Rob Barnett Senior Editor
John Quinn Seen & Heard Editor Emeritus Bill Kenny Editor in Chief
Vacant MusicWeb Webmaster
David Barker MusicWeb Founder Len Mullenger