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Dufay - Supremum est mortalibus bonum
Motets Volume 2
With this disc, Giuseppe Maletto and Cantica Symphonia complete their 'Dufay trilogy' on Glossa: two volumes of motets and one of chansons.
These singers and instrumentalists, many of them members of the various permutations of La Venexiana, represent the best possible interpreters for communicating this timeless and moving music: motets indelibly linked to the power struggles that, in the first half of the 15th century, convulsed the politics of European powers and of the Roman Catholic Church.
Together with Quadrivium, this new release sees Cantica Symphonia traversing all the currently attributed motets by Dufay: works written to set the seal on historic occasions as well as those with liturgical texts.
The accompanying essay admirably captures the pervasive 15th century currents of Humanism and religious splendour.
“Just how fine are the singers on this recording can be gauged from the last track… Cantica Symphonia's performance of his final setting of Ave regina celorum is extraordinarily moving, the personal supplication to Mary seeming almost to catch the composer's last breath.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2008
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Dufay: Voyage en Italie
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Guillaume Dufay: Sacred music from Bologna Q15
The manuscript Bologna, Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale, MS Q15 is one of the great anthologies of 15th century music, without which our understanding of early Renaissance music would be hopelessly impaired. It is known as Q15 to its friends; and it has many friends, for contained within it are examples of almost every conceivable musical genre of the period — with a special emphasis on sacred polyphony — and works by a vast array of composers. And even if we choose to make a selection of works by a single composer, as we have done here, the variety of forms and styles on offer is bewildering.
“This recording focuses on sacred works by Dufay from a 15th-century manuscript preserved at Bologna and known as Q15. This is a complex source, compiled over a number of years in northern Italy, and containing a wide range of polyphonic repertory, including diverse works by the great Dufay.
This CD isn't in any sense a reconstruction, but a carefully selected anthology of not necessarily very familiar pieces by Dufay. Indeed, this is a really superb recording: vocal lines are well shaped and the sonorities achieved through accuracy of ensemble and pacing result in performances that are decidedly sensual, even dance-like, at times.
Just try the four-voice Gloria or the isorhythmic motet Supremum est mortalibus bonum, in praise of peace. This extraordinary work composed to commemorate the signing of a peace treaty between the Pope and Holy Roman Emperorelect in 1433 combines just about every musical technique and idiom available to a composer in the first half of the 15th century, complete with, in this interpretation by The Clerks' Group, improvised vocal flourishes on the block chords declaiming the names of the signatories.
Vocal agility – notably in the faster-moving upper parts of Inclita stella maris – and a text- centred intensity of projection are hallmarks of this excellent group: only in the three-voice setting of O beate Sebastiane, a plea for delivery from the plague, does the approach seem too cool.
Elsewhere, even in familiar texts such as the Sanctus, there's a real sense of engagement. If you've yet to discover the delights of Dufay, this is an excellent place to start; Dufay fans can't fail to be delighted.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
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