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Jean Mouton was a Renaissance French composer and choirmaster, much acknowledged but more rarely recorded, who wrote a body of music that’s both technically inventive and immediately appealing. Here Stephen Rice and The Brabant Ensemble—renowned exponents of sixteenth-century Franco-Flemish repertoire—perform all Mouton’s eight-part music, two four-part motets, and his only five-part Mass setting, the Missa Tu es Petrus. The latter is characterized by light, clear textures and a soaring cantus firmus, while the double-choir Nesciens mater is rightly famous for its ingenious canon. Sheer compositional skill aside, all these works demonstrate Mouton’s vivid and original imagination—one that has the ability to speak directly to our time.
Mouton: Nesciens Mater
Mouton: Ave Maria, Gemma Virginum
Mouton: Exsultet Coniubilando
Mouton: Verbum Bonum & Suave
Mouton: Missa Tu Es Petrus - 1. Kyrie
Mouton: Missa Tu Es Petrus - 2. Gloria
Mouton: Missa Tu Es Petrus - 3. Credo
Mouton: Missa Tu Es Petrus - 4. Sanctus & Benedictus
Mouton: Missa Tu Es Petrus - 5. Agnus Dei
Mouton: Bona Vita, Bona Refectio
Mouton: Factum Est Silentium
10th June 2012
“The Brabant's singing throughout is polished, flexible, lean and – exactly what you want here – transcendent.”
“In each of these rich and complex works, the lucidity of both the Brabant Ensemble's singing and Rice's direction is hugely impressive. Polyphony written in so many parts can often sound dense and obscure (albeit ravishing to the ear). Measured tempos and highly disciplined singing, unhampered by vibrato, ensure that all part are clearly distinguishable.”
“The way in which Stephen Rice moulds his musical arguments is uniquely detailed and quietly thoughtful, aided at least in part by the fact that this respected musicologist works from his own specially produced editions...the sound, which is at its most crystalline in one-to-a-part performance...never hardens into relentlessness but stays luminously beautiful throughout. The blend of the ensemble is too warm for that”
“these pieces are refreshingly airy and transparent. Mouton's exquisite music and the Brabant Ensemble's graceful performances are well-served by Antony Pitts's production...The various strands are rendered clear and discrete without detracting from the overall sumptuousness. Highly recommended.”
“Stephen Rice extracts from his singers a pure sound but one that is full of expression. Vibrato is used by each singer but discreetly and the sense of ensemble is second to none...I see no reason why anyone with an interest in Renaissance choral music shouldn’t get this straightaway”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.