COMPOSERS: Busnois & Isaac,Obrecht,Ockeghem
WORKS: Missa Mi-mi; Salve regina; Alma redemptoris mater
PERFORMER: The Clerks’ Group/Edward Wickham
CATALOGUE NO: CD GAU 139 DDD
In choosing to explore vocal music from the early Flemish Renaissance, Wickham and The Clerks’ Group are charting waters that have remained curiously untouched in the recording studio. This is one of a series of discs centred on the music of Ockeghem, but also including works by his contemporaries – here, motets by Obrecht, Busnois and Isaac.
Ockeghem’s music presents many technical and interpretative problems: long-breathed phrases offering few points of repose, and a certain lack of textural contrast, for all its austere beauty. But having thoroughly absorbed his style, Wickham is able to make perfect sense of it, directing a finely shaped and darkly expressive performance of the Missa Mi-Mi, and dramatic accounts of the motets.
The young choir sings with a vigour that outweighs any flaws in intonation – indeed, such is their exuberance that some may find these performances too extrovert for the devotional nature of the music. In any case, this is a very welcome recording, bringing to life music that has too long remained on the page. Kate Bolton