Busnois

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COMPOSERS: Busnois
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Busnois – masses, motets and chansons
WORKS: Missa O Crux lignum
PERFORMER: Orlando Consort
CATALOGUE NO: HMU 907333
The Orlando Consort has been programming the works of the 15th-century Burgundian composer Antoine Busnois in its concerts for some time now. This is offered as a ‘sampler disc’ of his repertory – and wonderful music it is too.

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The centrepiece is the Missa O Crux Lignum. Its endlessly entwined lines and switchback rhythms are nicely held in focus, though the somewhat close, dry sound here gives it a rather hard edge, particularly in the potentially mellifluous duet of the Benedictus. The disc opens with the grand motet Gaude caelestis, but the textures and architecture of this piece evince rather random effects from the group, and there is a better recording of this work by Andrew Kirkman on Hyperion (reviewed March 2001). The singers fare better in Busnois’ shorter works such as the light and characterful chansons, ‘Vostre beauté’ and ‘Est-il merchy’. The disc ends with the anonymous and quirky motet Incomprehensibilia, only recently attributed to Busnois; its inclusion stands as a testament to the spirit of exploration that has always characterized the Orlando Consort. Anthony Pryer