Johannes Ockeghem (1420c-1495) was born in what we now know as Belgium, then called the Duchy of Hainault, part of the Duke of Burgundy’s territory. Little is known of his early years or his training, but we do know he was employed at the cathedral in Mons, then as ‘vicaire-chantuer’ at Antwerp cathedral in 1443. He later worked for Charles I, Duke of Bourbon, and, later, his son, Louis XI at Notre Dame in Paris. He was one of the most influential and respected composers of his day, and was friends with great contemporaries such as Dufay and Binchois.
His music is remarkable for the freedom, imagination and resourcefulness with which he handles compositional procedures, and in the way he writes for the voices. Each voice is treated equally, and the way he word - paints, or treats the texts marks him out as one of music’s great innovators.
His surviving output is small – a handful of Masses, and the delightful Chansons – whether the work is a large scale mass, or a small light hearted song, his gift for a long and complex rhapsodic line is apparent.
Recording made in 1997.
‘I found it difficult to decide between the Clerks' Group and The Tallis Scholars. This superb recording by the Orlando Consort doesn't make the choice any easier, for all three recordings offer sharply contrasting views of the work… The Orlandos are the obvious choice for those who prefer a soloistic approach, or for whom anything other than counter-tenors on top lines smacks of heresy. Their adoptive Gallic pronunciation is more noticeable and effective here than on previous recordings. It so happens that each ensemble uses a different edition, and the Orlandos seem to me to have the edge’ Gramophone August 1997
New booklet notes and sung texts.
“These texts are sung with an (authentic?) medieval French accent by very sophisticated performers. The mass is exquisite, the chansons alert in detail” BBC Music Magazine, February 2011 ****