Mouton Missa tu es Petrus

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Jean Mouton
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Mouton Missa tu es Petrus
WORKS: Ave Maria, gemma virginum; Exsultet coniubilando; Factum est silentium; Nesciens mater, etc
PERFORMER: The brabant Ensemble/Stephen Rice
CATALOGUE NO: CDA67933

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Jean Mouton, who was born some time before 1459 and died in 1522, is less well known to modern audiences than such early-music superstars as Dufay, Ockeghem and Mouton’s approximate contemporary, Josquin Desprez. As often as not he is ignored in reference books, yet he was distinguished enough to be employed at the French Court for 20 years and was much admired by Leo X, the Medici Pope. A celebrated singer and composer, he was considered a master of canons, a skill displayed to good effect here.

This gorgeous album presents all the works for eight voices which are certainly attributable to him, plus one for five (the Mass after which the CD is titled) and two for four voices. For all its beauty, affectiveness and dazzle, multi-voiced Medieval and Renaissance polyphony can become a little claustrophobic in its density, but these pieces are refreshingly airy and transparent. Mouton’s exquisite music and the Brabant Ensemble’s graceful performances are well-served by Antony Pitts’s production (he also edited the scores) and the acoustic of St Michael and All Angels, Summertown, Oxford. The various strands are rendered clear and discrete without detracting from the overall sumptuousness. Highly recommended.

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Barry Witherden