ALBUM TITLE: Malliard: Missa Je suis desheritee & Motets
WORKS: Works by Malliard
PERFORMER: The Marian Consort/Rory McCleery
CATALOGUE NO: DCD 34130
Little is known about Jean Maillard, except that he was French and lived in the 16th century. His music, which musicologist François Lesure claims was among the most important of Maillard’s era, is equally obscure today: this appears to be the first CD entirely devoted to it.
The main item, Missa Je suis déshéritée, takes its name and thematic material from a doleful little chanson by Pierre Cadéac. Taking its cue from the song, the Kyrie has a melancholy tinge too, highlighted in the gently caressing, one-to-a-part singing of The Marian Consort. The upwelling sense of longing in the Sanctus is also plangently delineated.
Using four singers only for the Mass has dangers – vagaries of pitching can be cruelly evident, textures can seem undernourished. Neither of these things happens here. The four voices (one woman, three men) are beautifully matched and balanced one with the other, and their naturally warm timbres are enhanced by inch-perfect judgement of the acoustic in Merton College Chapel, Oxford.
A selection of motets, for up to seven voices, punctuates the Mass movements. The thrumming, seven-part Gaudent in caelis is particularly striking, its elements of religious ecstasy and explicit sensuality virtually indistinguishable. There is plenty more music by Maillard awaiting attention. This relishable CD strongly suggests we should be hearing it.