For Ockeghem

For Ockeghem

by The Hilliard Ensemble

CD

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Overview

For Ockeghem

The consistently superb Hilliard Ensemble here sets itself the difficult task of making Johannes Ockeghem's music immediate and showing the modern listener some of what was admired in Ockeghem's music in its own time. The group succeeds brilliantly. The immediacy comes partly from the fact that this is a live recording, part of a series the group has been issuing on its own label. These have been successful enough to be picked up by England's Coro label, home to the complementary early music group the Sixteen. In some of the most difficult examples of unaccompanied choral music, the group never loses its footing or its pitch security. But it's more a matter of the program, which is entirely novel. It is structured so as to reveal the web of references that is crucial for any music before 1600, but that is difficult to grasp in the case of Ockeghem because his music is so often presented as purely intellectual. That it is, but, as with Bach, the intellect is often hidden. What an audience of the late fifteenth century would have heard was not the complex canon structure of the "Missa prolationum" but the way Ockeghem treated the music of his models, and the way Ockeghem's successors treated his music. Thus the Hilliard Ensemble does not present an entire mass, straight through (a form in which it would never have been heard in the fifteenth century, anyhow). Instead there are single movements from four different masses, with both the Kyrie and the Gloria coming from the "Missa Mi-Mi." The detailed booklet explains the stylistic issues pertinent to each one, a process that involves some up-to-the-minute research but isn't done in such a way as to lose the general listener. One might think the textual explanation would be a poor substitute for the more common method of actually performing the models, but in the case of Ockeghem, where the references are not direct (as in the later parody mass) but conveyed in subtle details, it actually gives the listener a better idea of what's happening. Interspsersed among the mass sections are various other materials -- a poem by the unfortunately named Guillaume Crétin, and works by other composers that use Ockeghem as a point of departure, explicated in similar detail, and not including Josquin's "La déploration sur la mort de Johannes Ockeghem." This is invaluable; hearing a motet like Busnois' "In hydraulis" side by side with the Ockeghem music Busnois would have known attunes the ear to the stylistic differences among these two composers in a way that simply plowing through an entire Ockeghem mass never could. The Crétin poem is read aloud in an English translation, with the French text provided in the booklet -- great for Anglophones, but others might have preferred to hear the original. Ockeghem is still not an easy composer for the modern listener to grasp, but this recording is a big step forward.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/08/2007
Label: Coro
UPC: 0828021604829
catalogNumber: 16048
Rank: 260643

Tracks

  1. Missa "Mi-mi" (Missa quarti toni), for 4 voices: Kyrie & Gloria
  2. Lament on the Death of the Late Ockeghem, Treasurer of Saint Martin of Tours, book: Cruel death...
  3. In hydraulis, motet for 4 voices
  4. Lament on the Death of the Late Ockeghem, Treasurer of Saint Martin of Tours, book: After this sweet harmony...
  5. Missa "De plus en plus", for 4 voices: Credo
  6. Lament on the Death of the Late Ockeghem, Treasurer of Saint Martin of Tours, book: Then arose King David the psalmist...
  7. Omnium bonorum plena, motet for 4 voices
  8. Lament on the Death of the Late Ockeghem, Treasurer of Saint Martin of Tours, book: Chiron the Centaur came up from Thessaly...
  9. Missa "Caput", for 4 voices: Sanctus
  10. Lament on the Death of the Late Ockeghem, Treasurer of Saint Martin of Tours, book: Then the very doleful Lady Music...
  11. Ergo Ne Conticuit
  12. Lament on the Death of the Late Ockeghem, Treasurer of Saint Martin of Tours, book: I call him Doctor in the science of music...
  13. Missa prolationum, for 4 voices: Agnus Dei

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