The Ockeghem Legacy
Sydney Chamber Choir
$23 (Australian dollars)
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|Nicholas Routley - conductor|
A celebration of the life and work of Ockeghem. His death occasioned many elegies, of which the most famous is Nimphes des bois. All the composers appearing on this CD were at his funeral in 1497. The Sydney Chamber Choir is acclaimed for its stylish performances of this repertoire, and the recording was made in the sumptous acoustic of the St Scholastica Chapel in Sydney.
|Jehan Ockeghem||Alma redemptoris mater|
Intemerata Dei mater
|Antoine Brumel||Sicut lilium|
|Loyset Compère||Omnium bonorum plena|
|Pierre de la Rue||O salutaris hostia|
|Josquin des Prez||Ave Maria |
O Domine Jesu Christe
Veni, Sancte Spiritus
Nimphes des bois
(Déploration for the death of Ockeghem)
|I agonized about slipping this into the composer parade under "Ockeghem", but it really has to be recognized as an anthology, with the achievement and heritage of Johannes Ockeghem as both composer and teacher as its premise.|
The program opens with Josquin Desprez's famous Deploration sur le mort de Johannes Ockeghem, which logically offers both the preface and the menu for the rest. The text of its second stanza lists the names, and invokes the grief, of eminent Ockeghem disciples: Josquin himself, "Pierchon" (Pierre Delarue), Antoine Brumel, and Loyset Compere. And so, after offering three impressive and contrasting motets by Ockeghem--representing the honored departed at the services, as it were--we have a motet apiece by Brumel, Compere, and Delarue, plus Josquin's three.
(Within that menu actually lies the germ of another possible one, as conductor Routley points out in his notes: for Compere's contribution, 'Omnium Bonorum Plena', offers another who's-who list. Its text is a prayer to the Virgin for compassion, not only for Compere himself but also for a distinguished list of poets and fellow composers, among them Dufay, Busnois, Ockeghem, Josquin, and Tinctoris.)
Some of these selections will be familiar from other recordings, notably Josquin's Deploration and his beloved Ave Maria, but the lesser-known items include some real winners.
Routley and his choir--22 mixed voices here--first came to my attention in a very enjoyable program of music by Josquin that they recorded for this Australian label in 1993 (054: M/A 1995). Once again, I admire their polished tone and well-balanced ensemble, as well as Routley's careful and stylish direction. I would, of course, quibble that his group is really too big to bring off Josquin's Deploration. And I could point out that there are tighter, leaner, more transparent renditions of some of this material, noting especially Edward Wickham's authoritative Ockeghem recordings for ASV. Moreover, I wish that the recording engineers had miked the choir a good bit closer, for improved clarity.
For all that, though, it is certainly a very welcome and most enjoyable package of early Netherlandish polyphony. Full texts with translations.
Margaret M. Barela
American Record Guide, March, 2002
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