Notes and Editorial Reviews
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
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
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 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
? 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
renditions are appropriate, of course, for a Requiem, something not always recognized in other recordings. Highly recommended.
FANFARE: Jerome F. Weber
Works on This Recording
Missa pro defunctis by Pierre de La Rue
The Clerks' Group
Requiem by Antoine Brumel
The Clerks' Group
Be the first to review this title