Ockeghem/Brumel/De La Rue

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COMPOSERS: Ockeghem/Brumel/De La Rue
LABELS: ASV Gaudeamus
WORKS: Missa Fors seulement; Requiem; Du tout plongiet/Fors seulement; Fors seulement
PERFORMER: The Clerks’ Group/Edward Wickham
CATALOGUE NO: CD GAU 168
This is another contribution from the splendid Clerks’ Group to the celebrations surrounding the 500th anniversary of Ockeghem’s death. Moreover, these two Masses by the composer come to us fresh and mostly unheard – even in concert performances. The Missa Fors seulement is based on a tune taken from one of Ockeghem’s own songs, but its technical challenges far exceed those of simple, lyrical singing. The five-part texture is often incredibly dense and complex and, to add to the difficulties, the work is written for the lowest part of the vocal range. Edward Wickham’s group copes admirably in a close and clean recording. The slightly fast pace seems to have been prompted by the desire to keep the ‘tunefulness’ of the quoted song melody in the foreground but, in this sacred music, the result is rather briskly matter of fact. There is greater variety in the Requiem performance, especially in the high drama of the Offertory text with its references to hell and damnation.

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But the greatest revelation comes in the profound and warm presentation of Brumel’s magnificent Du tout plongiet – a work probably unknown to most medievalists, let alone the general public, but one which is shown to glow with musical riches. Anthony Pryer