Notes and Editorial Reviews
First-rate music stirs this young ensemble to their finest disc yet
Even in his lifetime, Manchicourt’s fame was not what it might have been, but the stunning disc devoted to him 10 years ago by the Huelgas Ensemble (1/98 – nla) first served notice to modern listeners that he was no mere technician. There were so many fine composers in the mid-16th-century that it’s no easy matter to explain what it is that makes certain composers’ music stand out. Manchicourt’s has something of Gombert’s concentration of materials, with textures that are just as full but rather brighter; and his considerable contrapuntal ingenuity is often laced with wit (as in the
canonic Regina caeli). From the song by Richafort on which he bases his Mass Cuidez vous que Dieu nous faille, Manchicourt has a knack of selecting those moments that can be expanded and developed into large-scale passages of considerable rhetorical power. The small-scale as well as the medium-length motets are also worth hearing. The promise of the Huelgas Ensemble’s disc is fulfilled; equally, one must hope that another 10 years don’t elapse before we get to hear more of him.
My previous review of the Brabant Ensemble was of music by Jacobus Clemens non Papa (Signum, 3/05) and I was slightly critical of both music and interpretation. Whether the change of label has paid dividends in the studio or whether the sheer quality of the music has led them to raise their game, it’s a pleasure to note that my previous reservations have no place here. The sound recording is very fine, though the dominance of the trebles slightly obscures the contrapuntal working of the lower voices. All the same, this is a must-have for anybody interested in Renaissance music, marginal or not.
-- Fabrice Fitch, Gramophone [6/2007]
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