Josquin, Willaert, etc

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: etc,Josquin,Willaert
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Josquin Des Prés and His Contemporaries
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Binchois Consort/Andrew Kirkman
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67183
Josquin des Prez (d1521) was the most acclaimed composer of the late medieval period and, not surprisingly, for commercial and other reasons, his name became attached to many works not actually by him.

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This fascinating and compelling CD gives us a rare chance to explore genuine compositions by Josquin alongside several of disputed authorship. What it reveals is that the ability to write the occasional work of great beauty may have been fairly widespread, though perhaps only a genius like Josquin could sustain that standard from day to day.

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At least four of these works – ‘Inter natos’, ‘Verbum bonum’, ‘Ave caro’ and ‘Tota pulchra’ – have never been recorded before, and the last of these, by the obscure Flemish composer Nicolaus Craen, is presented with an architectural poise that does full justice to the wonderful music. Elsewhere (as in ‘Verbum bonum’, probably by Willaert) the voices can seem unblended and rather hard for the transmission of the voluptuous harmonic clashes. Josquin’s own ‘Pater noster’, though, mentioned in his will, gets a splendid performance, easily surpassing the rather indifferent and quick version issued by The Clerks’ Group in conjunction with OUP’s recent book on Josquin (reviewed May 2001). Anthony Pryer