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Missa Tournai / Brisset, Ensemble De Caelis

Release Date: 07/08/2008 
Label:  Ricercar   Catalog #: 265   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Philippe De VitryAnonymous
Conductor:  Laurence Brisset
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble De Caelis
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MISSA TOURNAI Laurence Brisset, dir; De Caelis Ens RICERCAR RIC 265 (51:45 Text and Translation)

Since the landmark recording of this Mass under Marcel Pérès ( Fanfare 15:1), we have heard additional versions by Trio Médiaeval (25:4), Tonus Peregrinus (27:5), and the René Clemencic Consort (29:2). The Tonus Peregrinus review dealt most extensively with comparisons and the latest one brought it up to date. Pérès took Read more first place for his use of the edition published in 1988 and the chant Propers found in the Tournai source. None of the other eight recordings had such a neat program, although Trio Médiaeval was praised for the singing of the three women and the Clemencic Consort for the equally fine singing of the four men. Only the first five versions used instruments, and none of them are on CD.

The newest version, the 10th, is the only one other than Pérès’s to put five Mass Propers in their place during the Mass, using chants for the vigil of the Assumption. These five are all familiar chants, even if not previously recorded together as the vigil observance. It is not clear that the chants are sung from Tournai MS A 27, as Pérès chose to do, and the interpretation is typical of modern singers rather than the period style often adopted in works of this era. It is also not clear that the polyphony is sung from the Tournai source, as Pérès did, for the Credo is credited to all four surviving sources and the Ite missa est to Ivrea as well as Tournai. One might expect otherwise from a Belgian ensemble. Like Tonus Peregrinus, they sing the bridge passages in the Gloria and Credo on the previous syllable, as the 1988 edition indicates, but like that group they sing “benedicamus te” in the Gloria, a solecism that is hard to explain.

The program begins with the motet Impudenter by Philippe de Vitry, a composer who was so well represented by two CDs in his anniversary year (15:2) that he has been largely neglected ever since. This is the motet most frequently recorded since then, the third version after Mora Vocis (not reviewed here) and Giuseppe Maletto (25:1). Three other anonymous pieces are added with less justification, one of them inserted in place of a sequence. The notes discuss many issues, not always clearly and not always accurately translated.

When the first recording of the Mass was made in June 1958 under Marc Honegger, it was thought to be the first performance in more than 500 years. In fact, it had been sung in Tournai on September 4, 1949, and repeated in Brussels. At Easter 1962, the cathedral boys’ choir sang the Mass, later broadcast on Belgian radio and television. That performance has never been issued on disc—a curiosity, to be sure, but a fascinating document that might be interesting to hear. Among the 10 versions that have appeared, this one comes close to Pérès in overall excellence and the fine singing is comparable to Trio Médiaeval and the Clemencic Consort, but all three versions have other handicaps. Still, one can listen to all four of these and gain some insight from each.

FANFARE: J. F. Weber
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Works on This Recording

Impudenter circumivi by Philippe De Vitry
Conductor:  Laurence Brisset
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble De Caelis
Period: Medieval 
Written: circa 1330; France 
Messe de Tournai by Anonymous
Conductor:  Laurence Brisset
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble De Caelis
Period: Medieval 
Written: 14th Century 
Date of Recording: 11/2007 
Venue:  Church of Saint-Apollinaire à Bolland 
Jour a jour la vie by Anonymous
Conductor:  Laurence Brisset
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble De Caelis
Period: Medieval 
Written: 14th Century; France 

Featured Sound Samples

Impudenter circumivi (de Vitry)
Jour a jour la vie (Anonymous)

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