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Josquin Desprez: Missa Ave Maris Stella; Marian Motets

Desprez / Weser-renaissance Bremen / Cordes
Release Date: 01/31/2012 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777590   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Josquin Des Préz
Conductor:  Manfred Cordes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Weser-Renaissance
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 8 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Simplicity, purity and clarity.

This music was composed early in Josquin’s career when he was singing in the Sistine Chapel and while the cult of devotion to the Blessed Mother was at its height.
 
The simplicity, purity and clarity of the singing here is immediately apparent from the opening track, in which four of the eight singers used throughout sing the Vespers motet “Ave Maria” from which the themes of this paraphrase Mass are derived. Tuning is exquisite and the blend of voices unimpeachable. The difference in texture between the motets, when four or five singers are employed to sing each part, and the Ordinary of the Mass when two voices double up each of the four lines, creates a welcome
Read more variety in the density of sound. Special mention must be made of the lead Diskant (countertenor) Franz Vitzthum who soars without strain. If I have any criticism of the singing here, it is that the bass Ulfried Staber has a touch of the groaner - I could do with a little more sap in his tone - but in general Manfred Cordes has gathered here some of the finest exponents of European Early Music.
 
I usually prefer a deployment of voices currently frowned upon by the purists such as the Tallis Scholars employ, whereby there are more voices, some women, per part, singing at a higher pitch - but in this case, the warmth, phrasing and musicality of the vocalists here entirely convinces me.
 
The musical forms employed by Josquin are surprisingly varied: there are homophonic passages of stark simplicity alternating with complex polyrhythmic patterns and intricate melismata. Despite this complexity, the singers’ exemplary diction permits the liturgical text to emerge clearly. Cordes’ direction is free, flexible and fluid; no heavy-handed bar-beating here.
 
Lovely though the Mass is, my favourite track here remains the first motet: the upward sweep of the opening phrase and the ensuing canon are enchanting in their simplicity, then the heavenly Ur-melody is sustained right through to the transcendent close, “O mater Dei, memento mei. Amen”.
 
The sound engineering is admirable; just the right amount of air and space around the voices. The gold packaging is very attractive. The booklet provides Latin texts with German and English translations and a code to permit identification of which singers are singing what; unfortunately the notes tell you nothing about the music, only about the history and development of the Marian cult.

-- Ralph Moore, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Ave Maria, virgo serena by Josquin Des Préz
Conductor:  Manfred Cordes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Weser-Renaissance
Period: Renaissance 
Venue:  Stiftskirche Bassum 
Length: 6 Minutes 17 Secs. 
2.
Missa "Ave maris stella" by Josquin Des Préz
Conductor:  Manfred Cordes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Weser-Renaissance
Period: Renaissance 
Venue:  Stiftskirche Bassum 
Length: 25 Minutes 1 Secs. 
3.
O virgo prudentissima by Josquin Des Préz
Conductor:  Manfred Cordes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Weser-Renaissance
Period: Renaissance 
Venue:  Stiftskirche Bassum 
Length: 2 Minutes 28 Secs. 
4.
Virgo salutiferi by Josquin Des Préz
Conductor:  Manfred Cordes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Weser-Renaissance
Period: Renaissance 
Venue:  Stiftskirche Bassum 
Length: 7 Minutes 33 Secs. 
5.
Alma Redemptoris mater / Ave regina celorem by Josquin Des Préz
Conductor:  Manfred Cordes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Weser-Renaissance
Period: Renaissance 
Venue:  Stiftskirche Bassum 
Length: 6 Minutes 23 Secs. 
6.
Illibata Dei virgo nutrix by Josquin Des Préz
Conductor:  Manfred Cordes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Weser-Renaissance
Period: Renaissance 
Venue:  Stiftskirche Bassum 
Length: 6 Minutes 57 Secs. 
7.
Benedicta es, celorum regina by Josquin Des Préz
Conductor:  Manfred Cordes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Weser-Renaissance
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1520; France 
Venue:  Stiftskirche Bassum 
Length: 6 Minutes 20 Secs. 
8.
Salve, regina ŕ 5 by Josquin Des Préz
Conductor:  Manfred Cordes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Weser-Renaissance
Period: Renaissance 
Venue:  Stiftskirche Bassum 
Length: 6 Minutes 27 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Ave Maria
Missa Ave maris stella: Kyrie
Missa Ave maris stella: Gloria
Virgo prudentissima a 4
Virgo salutiferi genitrix a 5
Missa Ave maris stella: Credo
Alma Redemptoris mater - Ave regina caelorum
Illibata Dei virgo nutrix - La mi la a 5
Missa Ave maris stella: Sanctus
Benedicta es, caelorum regina
Missa Ave maris stella: Agnus Dei
Salve regina

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