Dominique Visse and his group Ensemble Clément Janequin have been involved in many outstanding projects over the years, but this 2002 Harmonia Mundi recording has to be one of the most spectacular; the Missa "Et ecce terrae motus" (aka, "The Earthquake Mass") of Antoine Brumel. Brumel is one of many mid-renaissance composers whose reputations are so far overshadowed by Josquin Desprez that – like Rodney Dangerfield – they "just don't get no respect." In Brumel's own time, however, he was considered one of Josquin's equals and his death in 1512 was widely observed in a number of "déplorations." Although the mass itself survives in only a single manuscript copy, it bears the signatures of singers who revived the work in Munich in 1570 – probably close to a century after it was first given – and among them is a bass named Orlandus Lassus.
Who was this Antoine Brumel? He was a difficult person in every respect and a selfwilled and eccentric composer. A difficult personality is not unusual for a musician, yet his idiosyncrasy was recognized even in his own lifetime.
According to the standards of his time, Brumel's music knows no boundaries, is daring and never strictly academic. Whether this concerns imaginative musical structures, the working-out of counterpoint or the writing of repetitive forms - it is always more or less "outrageous".
The most fascinating of Brumel's works is without a doubt his twelve-part mass ET ECCE TERRAE MOTUS.
Il Codice consta di 101 carte munite di tre distinte filigrane, la più antica delle quali risponde ad un tipo assai diffuso in Piemonte circa fra il 1420 e il 1475, mentre la più recente si può far risalire ai primi decenni del Cinquecento. Le composizioni - tutte a 3 o a 4 voci (salvo una che è a 2 voci) - sono complessivamente 49: 8 messe (fra cui una pro defunctis), 11 Magnificat, 14 mottetti di varia natura (inni, antifone, Salve Regina, ecc.), 2 Benedictus, 12 chansons, 1 canone enigmatico, 1 brano strumentale. Solamente per 19 di tali composizioni si conosce il nome dell'autore, il più delle volte individuato attraverso il confronto con altre fonti, e fra questi figurano Alexander Agricola, Loyset Compère, Hayne van Ghizeghem, Heinrich Isaac, Antoine de Fevin, Jacob Obrecht, Antoine Brumel e un «misterioso» Engarandus Juvenis - un nome presente esclusivamente nel Codice di Staffarda, autore di una Missa pro defunctis e di un Magnificat a 4 voci, nonchè di un Salve Regina a 3 voci -, tutti scomparsi fra la fine del XV secolo e i primi due decenni del XVI.
The Franco-Flemish composer, Johannes Ockeghem, sang at Antwerp at the Bourbon court before joining the French royal chapel in 1451. Ockeghem spent most of his professional life at the French chapel and his output was quite prolific. He composed 14 settings of the Mass, including one of the earliest polyphonic versions of the Requiem. Ockeghem also composed numerous motets and secular songs. He was one of the most original voices in early Renaissance polyphony and his music dazzles with its ingenuity and beauty.
England's Orlando Consort, a quartet of male singers augmented as needed by other performers, offers performances of Renaissance vocal music that lie midway between the traditional and the highly individualized modern. Sometimes they veer toward one of those two extremes, but often, as on the present disc, they find a happy medium. Their sound, especially in sacred music, owes much to the English cathedral tradition, but there's a well-honed edge to their one-voice-to-a-part interpretations that brings out the crowds who've recently been drawn to early music. This disc is intended as an introduction to a composer who doesn't always offer easy listening to the modern ear. Netherlander Antoine Busnois, active at the end of the fifteenth century and considered the greatest figure between Dufay and Josquin, wrote music that broke free from elaborate medieval numerology but came in advance of Josquin's perfect marriage of music and text.
Extraordinarily well-written, prodigiously inventive, and relentlessly exciting–these aren’t terms normally used to describe 18th-century Masses, but then there is nothing “normal” about this late work by Czech composer Jan Dismas Zelenka. Simply put, if you aren’t acquainted with Zelenka (or if you’ve experienced a previous aversion to Masses), when you hear this piece-a substantial and powerful conception, from the first note of the Kyrie to the final chord of the Dona nobis pacem-you will wonder why this composer does not enjoy much greater esteem and popularity with performers, particularly alongside J.S. Bach (his contemporary) and Mozart.
This recording of Georg Muffat's monumental mass alongside church sonatas by his contemporaries creates a vivid impression of the imposing sacred music heard at leading Catholic courts during the High Baroque. The Abbey Church of Muri with its four galleries and its historical Bossart organs proves to be a performance venue with perfect acoustics for these polychoral works.