Mouton • Compère

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COMPOSERS: Mouton; Loyset Compère
LABELS: Gimell
ALBUM TITLE: Mouton • Compère
WORKS: Mouton: Missa Dictes moy toutes voz pensées; Quis dabit oculis?; Ave Maria… benedicta tu; Salva nos, Domine; Ave Maria … virgo serena; Neciens mater
PERFORMER: The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips


Let’s overlook the punning pictures of sheep/moutons on the cover and the booklet shot of three members of the Tallis Scholars’s bass section posing as The Blues Brothers (po-faced, moi?) and concentrate on the choir’s outstanding realisations of Mouton’s wonderful music. As I noted in my review of the Brabant Ensemble’s collection of Mouton’s multi-voice Masses, on the Hyperion label, in the September issue, Mouton’s canon-based compositions have a refreshing airiness and transparency that contrasts with the almost impenetrable density of much Renaissance polyphony. This clarity is achieved notwithstanding his mathematical methods, and it’s a quality that’s brought out superbly by the Tallis Scholars and by the excellent recording, providing both sharp focus and a sense of spaciousness and depth.

The CD opens with Loyset Compère’s chanson on which Mouton’s Mass is based. This chanson is itself an elegant, delightful piece. Its inclusion helps us appreciate the skill and imagination with which Mouton weaves his developments of its three voice parts. The programme is completed by some motets and a setting of Ave Maria… virgo serena, with some of these pieces demonstrating how Mouton could pare down his musical components and still produce dazzling beauty.

Peter Phillips’s lively, highly-readable notes present scholarly comments in an accessible manner. They give a vivid insight into the historical context of Mouton’s music, including some intriguing allusions to the way that Flemish, French and English stylistic preferences differed.


Barry Witherden