Academic journal article Notes

Requiem/Incessament

Academic journal article Notes

Requiem/Incessament

Article excerpt

Pierre de La Rue. Requiem. Antoine Brumel. Requiem. The Clerks' Group/Edward Wickham. Gaudeamus CD GAU 352, 2005.

Pierre de La Rue. Incessament. Ensemble Amarcord. Raumklang RK ap 10105, 2005.

Two recent releases shine a warm light on the work of Pierre de La Rue, one of the greatest of the fifteenth-century Franco-Flemish polyphonic masters. The first brings together La Rue's strange and transcendently beautiful Requiem Mass, his only setting of the Office of the Dead and one of the earliest polyphonic Requiem settings currently known. The composer made extensive use of the lower registers for this piece, keeping the bass voices deep in the basement throughout much of its length, and keeping the high voices generally in a moderate range. The rich melodiousness of the lower parts creates a lovely juxtaposition to what are often quite simple but grip pingly beautiful canonic passages in the upper voices. For this recording La Rue's Requiem was paired, insightfully, with a setting of the same liturgy by his French contemporary, Antoine Brumel (ca. 1460-ca. 1515). Brumel's composition is somewhat drier and more formalistic than La Rue's, incorporating plainchant in a more traditional way, but it is hardly less sumptuously beautiful. Best of all, this is the first recording of Brumel's Requiem Mass, one that will hopefully spur additional interest in this composer and his works. The Clerks' Group is a smallish ensemble-two altos, two tenors, three basses-but it is perhaps the single most accomplished and consistently impressive specialist ensemble currendy recording the Franco-Flemish repertoire. …

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