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Dufay & The Court Of Savoy - Missa "Se La Face Ay Pale" / Kirkman, Binchois Consort

Release Date: 01/13/2009 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67715   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Guillaume Dufay
Conductor:  Andrew Kirkman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Binchois Consort
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

DUFAY Missa Se la face ay pale . Mass Propers for St. Maurice. O très piteulx. Se la face ay pale. Magnanimae gentis laudes Andrew Kirkman, dir; Binchois Consort HYPERION 67715 (72:03 Text and Translation)

With a stunningly beautiful cover showing Mass in the Burgundian court chapel (an illuminated page from the Très Riches Heures of Jean, Duke of Read more Berry ), this program, entitled “Dufay and the Court of Savoy,” is a splendid evocation of Dufay’s residences at the courts of Savoy and Burgundy. He spent three periods at the Savoy court and remained in touch after he settled at Cambrai, but his contacts with the Burgundian court, while significant, did not involve extensive residence there (the first was briefly in 1439). This Mass Ordinary, now the most familiar of Dufay’s settings, was composed for a court wedding in Savoy, most likely the 1452 nuptials of the future Duke Amadeus IX of Savoy and Yolande, the sister of the future Louis XI of France. Louis had just married Amadeus’s sister Charlotte a year earlier, and in 1440 Louis’s other sister Catherine had married the future duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold. These two neighboring duchies were friendly competitors in the culture wars, with Binchois directing the music in Burgundy while Dufay was in Savoy.

The Mass Propers on this program belong to the feast of St. Maurice, a Roman martyr of the Theban legion who died in the region of Savoy. Amadeus’s grandfather, Amadeus VIII, had founded an order of knighthood in his honor in 1434, so this Mass is a suitable part of the program. It is one of a group of anonymous Mass Propers in Trent 88 that Laurence Feininger identified as the work of Dufay. O très piteulx commemorated the fall of Constantinople, while Magnanimae gentis laudes marked the peace treaty of 1438. Noted recently (32:2) as a motet not recorded a cappella on CD, the latter now enjoys two such versions, following the Hilliard Ensemble (32:4). The ballade that Dufay wrote for an earlier Savoy wedding in 1434, the source of the cantus firmus of the Mass, is heard here in a four-voice version, not the original for three voices.

This ensemble has now recorded five masses credited (one doubtfully) to Dufay, an achievement of considerable stature, for each of the discs has offered some new insight into the composer and his era. Like Munrow, Janssens, and Guerber, Kirkman uses two voices to a part. As well as giving a fine rendition of the music, Kirkman’s Dufay disc also adds relevant music to broaden our understanding of the period, helped greatly by Kirkman’s notes.

All of the recordings of this Mass have been issued on CD, the first two only in Europe (the first four entries below were first issued here on LP). There is a sharp break in time between the first four accompanied versions and all the newer, unaccompanied recordings. There is not such a sharp progression from chorus (as late as Ho) to vocal ensemble (as early as Munrow) as one might expect from the prevailing shift in performance practice.

Hans Gillesberger, recorded 1963, Vanguard 08-2033

Tölzer Knabenchor, rec. July 1964, BMG-DHM 82876-69992

David Munrow, rec. September 1973, Virgin 561283

Alejandro Planchart, rec. March 1974, Lyrichord 8013 (18:4)

Thomas Binkley, rec. October 1987, Focus 934

Nigel Rogers, rec. September 1988, Nuova Era 6741 (15:5)

Hilliard Ensemble, rec. January 1998, Coro 16055 (32:1)

Guy Janssens, rec. February 1999, Cyprès 1630 (30:4)

Edith Ho, rec. June 1999, Arsis 118 (23:6)

Antoine Guerber, rec. September 2003, Alpha 051 (28:4)

Andrew Kirkman, rec. February 2008 (reviewed here)

Hilliard is the nearest runner-up to Kirkman, but the other recordings offer an interesting comparison of performing styles.

FANFARE: J. F. Weber
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Works on This Recording

Missa "Se la face ay pale" by Guillaume Dufay
Conductor:  Andrew Kirkman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Binchois Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; France 
O tres piteulx "Lamentatio constantinopolitanae" by Guillaume Dufay
Conductor:  Andrew Kirkman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Binchois Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; France 
Magnanime gentis laudes by Guillaume Dufay
Conductor:  Andrew Kirkman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Binchois Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1438; France 
Se la face ay pale by Guillaume Dufay
Conductor:  Andrew Kirkman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Binchois Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; France 

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