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Ockeghem: Missa De Plus En Plus; Chansons / Orlando Consort

Ockeghem / Orlando Consort
Release Date: 07/26/2011 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 94073   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johannes Ockeghem
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando Consort
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The Orlando Consort’s approach works well in this music. There is an austerity to the sound of just four men which suits Ockeghem’s textures. In the denser passages the Orlando brings good crisp clarity to the lively rhythms. Everything is sung with a nice feel for Ockeghem’s long lines...this ‘less is more’ approach works very well for them and I would happily listen to this disc repeatedly.

Considering that he was one of the most celebrated composers in the 15th Century, we don’t seem to know a lot about Johannes Ockeghem; his exact birth-date, birth location and early training are all uncertain. He left behind a significant musical record and when he died in 1497 his death was marked by compositions from some of the
Read more greatest composers of the time.

Ockeghem’s Missa De plus en plus uses as its cantus firmus, the tenor part of Binchois’s rondeaux De plus en plus. The piece has some of the rhythmic density of some of Ockeghem’s early masses, but also seems to be performing an act of homage to Binchois. Ockeghem wrote a deploration on Binchois’s death in 1460, Mort, tu as navre de ton dart and this wonderful piece is the last item on this disc. Scholars tend to assume that the mass was written at about the same time as the deploration.

If we know little about Ockeghem the man, we probably know even less about performance practice in the 15th century. So there are various ways that you can approach the mass. The Orlando Consort perform it one voice to a part, with all men. As an alternative there are versions from Edward Wickham and the Clerkes Group, and Peter Phillips and the Tallis Scholars, both of which take a more choral approach.

The Orlando Consort’s approach works well in this music. There is an austerity to the sound of just four men which suits Ockeghem’s textures. In the denser passages the Orlando brings good crisp clarity to the lively rhythms. Everything is sung with a nice feel for Ockeghem’s long lines.

The voice ranges required for these parts are quite large and demanding, so that in the more choral-based versions there is a discreet mixing and matching of singers; the four men of the Orlando Consort do it all on their own. The results are simply impressive from a technical and stamina point of view and the benefits far out-weigh the hints of human fallibility which inevitably come with using just one voice to a part in this type of music.

The Orlando Consort’s interpretation is quite restrained. You could imagine a more demonstrative account of the music, but this ‘less is more’ approach works very well for them and I would happily listen to this disc repeatedly.

About the accompanying chansons I am less certain. Certainly including the chansons does give a neat over-view of Ockeghem’s career, but I don’t feel the Orlando Consort handle them well. They still seem to be in sacred mode, and I kept feeling that I would far rather have had a selection of contemporary motets - which is what the Clerkes Group does.

The CD booklet includes an informative essay, plus the text for the mass in Latin and English. There are no texts for the chansons, which would seem a significant omission. The CD was originally issued on DG and is now warmly welcome on the Brilliant Classics budget label.

Quite which recording of Ockeghem’s Missa de Plus en Plus you go for depends on your personal preferences. This is a superb recording of the mass and if you can live with the chansons, then I would go for it. You might not like the idea of just one voice to a part, in which case go for the Clerkes Group - where the coupling is a selection of motets - or The Tallis Scholars, where the coupling is another Ockeghem mass.

- Robert Hugill, MusicWeb International

The Orlando Consort: Robert Harre-Jones, Matthew Venner, Mark Dobell, Charles Daniles, Angus Smith, Donald Greig

Recorded 5-8 March 1996, St. Osdag Kirche Mandelsloh, Neustadt.
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Works on This Recording

1.
Missa "De plus en plus" by Johannes Ockeghem
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: circa 1460; Flanders, Belgium 
Date of Recording: March 5, 1996 
Venue:  St. Osdag Kirche Mandelsloh, Neustadt 
2.
Presque transi by Johannes Ockeghem
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; Flanders, Belgium 
3.
Prenez sur moi vostre exemple by Johannes Ockeghem
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; Flanders, Belgium 
4.
O rosa bella by Johannes Ockeghem
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; Flanders, Belgium 
5.
Aultre Vénus estes by Johannes Ockeghem
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; Flanders, Belgium 
6.
S'elle m'amera je ne sçay by Johannes Ockeghem
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; Flanders, Belgium 
7.
Tant fuz gentement resjouy by Johannes Ockeghem
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; Flanders, Belgium 
8.
Mort, tu as navré by Johannes Ockeghem
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; Flanders, Belgium 

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