A Field: Being Dufay

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: A Field
LABELS: ECM
WORKS: Being Dufay
PERFORMER: John Potter (tenor), Ambrose Field (live and studio electronics)
CATALOGUE NO: 476 6948

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Field is interested in tracing parallels between the music of Dufay’s time and that of our era: in particular, the idea that compositions should not be forever fixed and fossilised.

Here, he treats fragments of Dufay’s music like a cantus firmus, just as Dufay and his contemporaries would use pre-existing music as the core of their compositions, and embeds them in many-layered settings of electronics, both synthesised and taken from life: voices, everyday sounds and splinters of bass clarinet, which could be John Surman with the Dowland Project.

Potter is also involved with the marvellous Dowland Project, which uses improvisation and experiment to create new, entirely fitting realisations of early music. Being Dufay is a logical companion to the Project. Potter’s singing here is exemplary, and I can think of few singers so suited to such music.

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Occasionally, washes of electronic sound engulf the soloist, providing compelling dramatic climaxes (the choir and organ-effect on ‘Je me complains’ is particularly effective) but mostly Field employs pedal-tones and bell-like sonorities that are perfectly apposite to Dufay’s music. Barry Witherden