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Mouton & Richafort Masses, and Macmillan's orchestral music

Jean Mouton: Missa Tu es Petrus & the complete eight-part motets

The Brabant Ensemble/Stephen Rice

Hyperion CDA 67933




Jean Richafort: Requiem Mass & other sacred music (A Requiem for Josquin)


Hyperion CDA67959


Two fascinating and very different scholarly productions of 16 C sacred music, both rewarding to listen to even for non-specialists.

16th C renaissance polyphony can be difficult music to "get inside", which makes repetition via CD helpful. Stephen Rice and his 12-voice specialist Brabant Ensemble are real experts, evidenced also by Rice's own performance scores and comprehensive liner notes.

Taken just as music to enjoy, the sounds are a delight and grasping the intricate canons etc can be left for next time. The five-voice Mass setting Missa Tu es Petrus should "get" to listeners who enjoy, say, those of Byrd and are not too intimidated by the scholarship which informs most CD productions of music of the period..

The French priest and composer Jean Mouton (1522 - late 1450s) needs a fair amoun of textural variety in the selction of voices to hold attention. Those here include female ones in some of the motets to cope with high tuning.

Hard to review, but less so for an open-minded listener. Try it !

Peter Grahame Woolf


The Brabant Ensemble is a large group including sopranos, needed for the Mass, which is in five parts, with a cantus firmus set unusually high. The Agnus dei is lightenedwith the tenor notated to be performed a fourth higher than written !

Cinquecento, on the other hand, is a group of 6 male singers, producing a totally different sound. Their programme, conceived as a Requiem for Josquin [c1450/55-1547] encompasses motets by Josquin Dez Prez himself and several other composers of the period, of whom Gombert may be the only familiar name.

Recommended for collectors who may be familiar with some Masses by say Palestrina and Byrd and who are interested to extend into the riches of the period.

Peter Grahame Woolf


MacMillan: A Deep But Dazzling Darkness; Ì (A Meditation on Iona); Veni, Veni Emmanuel

Colin Currie (percussion) Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic/James MacMillan

Challenger Classics CC72540 [70 mins]

This review is placed below two of 16th C sacred music for reasons which may invite consideration, but not so simply as the composer might wish.

I remember a decade ago enjoying Veni, Veni Emmanuel when it was new, as a vehicle for the delightful deaf Evelyn Glennie, marvelling at how she negotiated nimbly a forest of percussion instruments which surrounded her. Then it was, for me, just music...

This release with Colin Currie sounds good, well balanced as recorded at the Netherlands Broadcasting Music Centre, 2010. But as presented, it seems to be No 1 of a series aimed at the "faith" market.

The extensive notes by Ivan Moody (British composer and Greek Orthodox priest) discuss its eight continuous numbered sections in terms of the "gradual "revelation" of the message of Advent". Paradoxically I found trying to follow them interfered with actually listening to the music because, quite bizarrely, Moody provides no timings to help us keep on track.

Maybe challenger classics could recitfy that omission on their website?

Peter Grahame Woolf