WORKS: Complete Secular Music
PERFORMER: The Medieval Ensemble of London/Peter Davies, Timothy Davies
CATALOGUE NO: 436 194-2 DDD
Johannes Ockeghem may have been one of the greatest composers of the 15th century, but until now only a handful of his works has been available on record. The chansons fared particularly badly, so to hear his complete secular output in performances of such quality is a real joy. Much has been written about Ockeghem’s contrapuntal ingenuity, but, equally important, he could quite simply write a good tune, and the courtly love song was the perfect medium for him to show off his skill.
How these chansons were originally intended to be performed is a subject for endless speculation, and while some people may question certain editorial decisions made on this recording, most of the results are rewarding. To my mind, the most successful items are those in which the top line is performed by a solo voice, the others instrumentally; and their success is largely due to the artistry of the soloists – notably Rogers Covey-Crump, whose facility in these intricate, weaving melodies is a constant delight. The five singers are supported by an impressive array of instruments which are discreetly used to vary the texture.Kate Bolton