Dufay: Recollectio festorum beate Marie Virginis; motets

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LABELS: Archiv
WORKS: Recollectio festorum beate Marie Virginis; motets
PERFORMER: Pomerium/Alexander Blachly
CATALOGUE NO: 447 773-2
In 1985 the New York scholar Barbara Haggh announced the discovery of some new works by the 15th-century composer Guillaume Dufay. And here they are – a set of chants for the service of the Vespers of the Blessed Virgin, sung decently and warmly. This is another first for Pomerium who, last year, issued a pioneering recording of Dufay’s St Anthony of Padua Mass on the same label. By contrast, Dufay’s better-known motets have been frequently recorded. ‘Nuper rosarum flores’, written for the dedication of Florence Cathedral, is grand and complex. Pomerium, with its 15 singers, captures well the magisterial quality of this work, but rather loses pace in the duple-time sections. Also, the singers are alert to the imitation between the voices at the word ‘successor’ but not, curiously, when similar music is repeated at ‘veniamque’. ‘Alma redemptoris’ and ‘Letabundus’ have simpler textures. Here the choir is at its best, consoling and harmonious in tone. Pomerium first recorded ‘Ecclesia militantis’ in the 1970s with some uncertain tuning and rhythm. This latest version is infinitely better but still cannot match the piquancy, drive and clarity of the recent Orlando Consort performance (only one singer per part) on the Metronome label. Anthony Pryer