COMPOSERS: Josquin Des Prez
LABELS: Naïve Astrée
WORKS: Missa L’homme armé sexti toni; Missa L’homme armé super voces musicales
PERFORMER: A Sei Voci/Bernard Fabre-Garrus, Maîtrise des Pays de Loire/Bertrand Lemaire
CATALOGUE NO: E 8809
This is the sixth disc in the series of recordings of Josquin Masses by the French vocal ensemble A Sei Voci. To some extent their experience is beginning to show since they provide robust and assured presentations of these works, with confidence enough to please the casual listener. However, I am not sure that they fully understand this music, and the uncertain blend of their voices does not always serve the music well.
Of Josquin’s two Masses on the L’homme armé tune, the ‘sexti toni’, version is the more astonishing work, since it is really a highly varied, almost instrumental, fantasia on the given melody. The final Agnus Dei is a kind of ecstatic jamboree of thematic interplay, but here the traditional slow and reverent performance denies the excitable musical, as opposed to liturgical, culmination. Again, in the ‘super voces musicales’ Mass Josquin, perhaps for doctrinal reasons, omits a sizeable section of the text from the Credo: this is not mentioned in the booklet, but the text is reinstated by simply singing it in plainsong in the middle of the polyphonic movement. Also, the generally vibrant energy of these performances cannot compensate for occasional muffed entries and muffled textures. Anthony Pryer