Ockegem: Caput

Ockegem: Caput

by Graindelavoix


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Ockegem: Caput

This Glossa edition of Johannes Ockeghem's "Missa Caput" is beautifully packaged, down to the intriguing drawings on the disc itself; the booklet contains a penetrating essay by Björn Schmelzer, director of Graindelavoix, the vocal group behind this recording. Schmelzer has done his homework; for example, the part of the essay headed "Some notes regarding interpretation, aesthetics and acoustics during this recording," he likens working with his group at the late Gothic Sint-Pauluskerk in Antwerp as being like "fieldwork by an ethnomusicologist." So far, so good, though that impression only lasts as long as one doesn't pop in the disc. That the "Caput Mass" of Ockeghem is a devil to sing and keep in tune is a given, and Schmelzer has managed to nail down appropriate incipits and they all are present. However, the singing is uncoordinated and the choir does not blend, the sense of pitch drifts around, and the Sint-Pauluskerk has such an enormous reverb that it grabs the sound of this choir and pushes it around everywhere; sometimes it's a bit too soft, at other times a single voice will assert itself over the rest, never is it clear enough that you can hear the polyphony or understand the text. It seems like Graindelavoix is counting on the ambience and the way it obscures Ockeghem's music to create an overall aural mystique that will enchant the listener and conceal some of the weaker singers among its members, but it doesn't work; at least one of the tenors sings almost like a choirboy, whereas one other is clearly straining at the top notes in Ockeghem's texture. There aren't a lot of recordings of Ockeghem's "Caput Mass," and indeed, probably few choirs that can sing it at all. Graindelavoix probably can, or can come close, but we'll never know, as the massive reverberation in the Sint-Pauluskerk swallowed up its effort. One thing a listener always wants to hear in Ockeghem is the polyphony, and that appears to be the major element that Graindelavoix did not get onto this Glossa disc. ~ Uncle Dave Lewis

Product Details

Release Date: 04/25/2006
Label: Glossa
UPC: 8424562321014
catalogNumber: 32101
Rank: 154023


  1. Mandatum novum, antiphon in mode 3
  2. Missa "Caput", for 4 voices: Kyrie
  3. Diligamus nos, antiphon in mode 7
  4. Missa "Caput", for 4 voices: Gloria
  5. In diebus illis mulier
  6. Missa "Caput", for 4 voices: Credo
  7. Maria Vergo assumpta est, antiphon
  8. Missa "Caput", for 4 voices: Sanctus
  9. Voc vocatis me, antiphon in Mode 8
  10. Missa "Caput", for 4 voices: Agnus dei
  11. Venit ad Petrum

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