COMPOSERS: Dufay,Isaac,Johannes de Sarto,Josquin Desprez,Obrecht,Ockeghem,Pierre de La Rue
ALBUM TITLE: In Memoria
WORKS: Medieval Songs of Remembrance by Johannes de Sarto, Dufay, Ockeghem, Josquin DesPrez, Obrecht, Pierre de la Rue, Isaac etc
PERFORMER: The Clerks’ Group/Edward Wickham
CATALOGUE NO: CD GAU 362
There is great music here. This is because many of these pieces were written to mark the deaths of edieval kings, princes and renowned composers, and they were designed to be performed on ceremonial occasions by the finest singers. Moreover, it was precisely in such commemorative music that grand structures and touching expressiveness came together for the first time in the history of music.
Three of these tracks have appeared on previous CDs, but that does not matter. Here they find a more telling context, and this collection of varied and nicely recorded performances does ample justice to this extraordinary musical genre. In Romanorum Rex the chordal acclamations, musical exchanges and moments of mysterious dark harmony are all held skilfully in place, while in Obrecht’s Mille Quingentis the music is allowed to roll gently onwards, gaining import through consistency and mildmannered strength. The wobbly top voice in the anonymous Credo is a passing blemish (the effect is avoided in Josquin’s Nymphes de Bois by the downward transposition), and in Dufay’s Ave Regina the rhythms are not so much earth-bound as restrained. Josquin’s exquisite Que vous madame and Isaac’s Qui dabit are presented with the self-effacing dexterity of a musical conjuring trick. Anthony Pryer