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Unaccompanied male voice ensemble overlaid with solo jazz saxophone
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Dufay - Music for St James the Greater
St James the Greater, Apostle of Christ, foster son of the Virgin Mary, brother of St John the Evangelist, and indelibly—if somewhat perplexingly— associated with Compostela, became the focus of many composers; after all, anyone who was anyone in the Middle Ages (including Chaucer’s Wife of Bath) would make a pilgrimage to St James’s shrine in Spain at some point in their life. The exact background to Dufay’s Mass is as yet unknown but it is an enormous work (forty minutes plus) of great passion.
Also included on this disc are three motets composed around the same time as the Mass, and a Gloria/Credo pairing, remarkable for up-beat, if irreverent, interpolations of snippets from Italian and French popular songs during the ‘Amens’.
“This disc still shines in the firmament of Dufay recordings. Deftly-shaped phrases, balanced between driving momentum and tranquillity, and decisiveness of interpretation justify this disc's re-issue.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2008 ****
“This is Dufay as I have always wanted to hear him. [It] is as close to a perfect Dufay CD as I have ever heard … so utterly compelling is this recording that I can imagine it acquiring cult status” Gramophone Magazine
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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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