Notes and Editorial Reviews
Alexander Agricola (1456?–1506) is only beginning to get much attention either in musicology or on records. Alejandro Planchart recently rediscovered a 1476 document from Cambrai cathedral, the earliest known reference to the composer, that calls him “young,” hardly a word that would refer to someone born (as was commonly thought) about 1446. But it makes it easier to accept the lack of any further information before 1492, when he ceased to sing at the French court. In 1500, after spending some time in Italy, he arrived at the Burgundian court, and in 1506, he accompanied the duke to Spain, where both died of the plague in Valladolid.
This is the second pair of Masses by Agricola that János Bali has given us,
completing the group of four works based on secular cantus firmi. The previous issue of Missa Malheur me bat and Missa In minen sin (HCD 32011) was reviewed elsewhere (as was a disc of songs by Ensemble Unicorn on Naxos 8.553840). Three of these four Masses were represented on Paul van Nevel’s collection (23:1), the Kyrie from Missa Je ne demande, the Credo from Missa Le serviteur, and the Agnus Dei from Missa In minen sin. The first Mass on this disc uses a cantus firmus by Dufay and the other uses one by Busnoys. The first one is given an alternative performance of the Kyrie because of unclear indications in the sources.
As we heard on the group’s earlier discs, this is an all-male choir, so the top line is taken by countertenors. The sound is not the same as we hear from the numerous small vocal ensembles all over Europe. This is a choral sound, somewhat thicker than other choirs, but responsive to Bali’s interpretation. They have also given us three pairs of masses by Obrecht, not all recording premieres as Agricola’s are. The group should be heard, for Agricola deserves better than he has been given till now. Hear what Bali has done for him.
J. F. Weber, FANFARE
Works on This Recording
Missa "Le serviteur" by Alexander Agricola
János Bali ()
Missa "Je ne demande" by Alexander Agricola
János Bali ()
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