LABELS: Ars musici
WORKS: Missa pro defunctis; A solis ortus cardine; Ave maris stella
PERFORMER: Dufay Ensemble/Eckehard Kiem
CATALOGUE NO: AM 1336-2
Jacobus Vaet is not a name to conjure with even for early music groupies but, as this recording admirably demonstrates, his works often aspire to a kind of magical simplicity. Even in his own time he was sufficiently esteemed to be made, in 1564, Kapellmeister to the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II.
The eight male voices of the Dufay Ensemble are nicely suited to this repertoire, generally keeping the textures clean and the tuning keenly in focus – as in Iste est Joannes, for example, and the marvellously poised duets of the Tract of the Requiem Mass. The most complex work on the disc is the six-voice motet Continuo lacrimas, written upon the death of Vaet’s composer-friend Clemens non Papa in 1556. The booklet notes imply that none of these works has been recorded before, but a rather good performance of this piece was issued by the Capella Antiqua of Munich in the Sixties (on Telefunken), which avoided the rather dense, messy sound at the opening given here and rose above the somewhat matter-of-fact aura of the present performance. Even so, this recording opens some hidden doors on to the delights of an everyday composer with a flair for miniature perfection. Anthony Pryer