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De La Rue, Brumel: Requiem / Wickham, Clerk's Group

Release Date: 02/21/2006 
Label:  Gaudeamus Catalog #: 352   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Pierre de La RueAntoine Brumel
Conductor:  Edward Wickham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Clerks' Group
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 56 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

LA RUE Requiem. BRUMEL Requiem ? Edward Wickham, dir; The Clerks? Group ? GAUDEAMUS CD GAU 352 (56:15 & )

The much-recorded Requiem of Pierre de La Rue (c. 1460?1518) is coupled here with the first recording of a setting by his exact contemporary, Antoine Brumel (c. 1460?1520). The latter includes the first polyphonic setting of ?Dies irae,? which has already been recorded separately by Read more Paul van Nevel (14:9), a performance that takes half again as long as this one. While Wickham renders the odd verses of ?Dies irae? in a cappella polyphony and the even verses in straightforward chant, van Nevel adds a prelude and several interludes played by a brass choir that also accompanies the polyphony, while the even verses are sung in fauxbourdon (improvised harmony on the chant), making the entire rendition much broader.

This is the eighth version of La Rue?s work on my shelf, but the most recent of the others was made by Ensemble Clément Janequin (13:2). It was one of the best versions, and it was coupled with the second recording in quick succession of Missa L?homme armé . This is Wickham?s second recording of a La Rue mass (26:6), the first of which occasioned a survey of La Rue?s recorded masses in the review. Incidentally, as an indication of the activity occasioned by the new La Rue Complete Works, three more masses have already appeared, Missa Incessament (reviewed elsewhere), Missa de beata Virgine on Christophorus (coupled with yet another Requiem), and Missa Iste est speciosa on the Austrian Radio label ORF.

Brumel?s Requiem is a valuable addition to the catalog, even if it does not have the spectacular appeal of the thrice-recorded Missa Et ecce terraemotus . The notes point out the scarcity of polyphonic Requiems in the Renaissance, but the reasoning seems faulty. Funeral masses were not sung (in chant) only in monasteries, as stated, but certainly in parish churches everywhere. Otherwise, why would Berlioz have regarded the tune of the ?Dies irae? as so familiar that he could use the tune as an evocation of death in his Symphonie fantastique ? All the melodies of the funeral Mass, not just the sequence, run through each movement of Brumel?s polyphony. In later centuries, composers would set the Requiem to entirely original music.

With hardly any of the La Rue Requiems available anymore (though the old Knothe, which never circulated here when it was new, is now on Berlin Classics), this disc is an obvious choice for newcomers as well as any collectors who want to upgrade. The Brumel is a fine coupling. The a cappella renditions are appropriate, of course, for a Requiem, something not always recognized in other recordings. Highly recommended.

FANFARE: Jerome F. Weber
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Works on This Recording

Missa pro defunctis by Pierre de La Rue
Conductor:  Edward Wickham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Clerks' Group
Period: Renaissance 
Requiem by Antoine Brumel
Conductor:  Edward Wickham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Clerks' Group
Period: Renaissance 
Written: France 

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