For its third CD on the Challenge label, Cappella Pratensis turns the page back to two of the earliest known settings of the Requiem mass with works by two of the most important musical figures of the 15th and early 16th centuries, Johannes Ockeghem, and Pierre de la Rue.
The Requiem Masses of Johannes Ockeghem and Pierre de la Rue form an ideal pairing as they are the first polyphonic versions of the Mass for the Dead from the Franco-Flemish school. La Rue clearly drew inspiration from his older colleague echoing Ockeghem's sober yet sonorous style.
Founded in 1987 the Dutch-based vocal ensemble Cappella Pratensis, literally ‘Cappella des prés’, champions the music of Josquin Desprez and the polyphonists of the 15th and 16th centuries. The group combines historically informed performance practice with inventive programmes and original interpretations based on scholarly research and artistic insight.
As in Josquin’s time, the members of Cappella Pratensis perform from a central music stand, singing from the original mensural notation scored in a large choir book. Cappella Pratensis is now under the artistic direction of singer and conductor Stratton Bull, who succeeds other previous leaders Bart Demuyt and Peter Van Heyghen.
“The two earliest surviving settings of the Requiem Mass receive beautiful realisations in superb sound: both performances and recording quality are of exemplary clarity.”
2nd June 2012
“[Cappella Pratensis] sing with an organic appreciation of line and text in a sinuously smooth legato that engolds the ear in every phrase...Serious scholarship and a commitment to performing from a central music stand with a score in the original mensural notation combined creatively with mellifluous singing - it may be academic, but there's no want of devotional intensity.”
“Tempi are leisurely; and, though, the voices have perhaps not the individuality to be found in some other ensembles, the sense of a collective singers in the service of the music grows with each hearing and lends integrity to a work which, for all carefully controlled intensity, is a study in exercising restraint.”
1st April 2012
“The eight singers of the all-male Dutch vocal ensemble Cappella Pratensis, under the direction of the countertenor Stratton Bull, give studied, beautifully shaped and blended performances.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.