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with various composers & 'anon'.
Missa Ecce ancilla Domini & Le Banquet du Voeu
Ensemble Gilles Binchois/Dominique Vellard
Virgin Veritas VBD5 61818 2 (59.34+64.06)
 (Bargain price around £9)

It is hard to enthuse about this sort of production. The core of it is to be found in the second CD, a Mass by Dufay, one of the most consistently interesting of Flemish liturgical composers. It dates from the early 1460s and is one of his four mature masses, unusual in having two chants as a basis for development. No texts are given, but those of the Ordinary are no doubt familiar to most prospective buyers. Not necessarily so those of the Proper (Introit, Gradual, Evangelium etc) which are also included, though whether those are by Dufay is speculative. The rendering of the score by 10 male singers is clear and the acoustic of the Abbaye de Vaucelles in France (1992) suitable.

The other CD is speculative too, a tapestry of secular music of a type 'likely to have been performed' between the courses of a famous feast given in 1454 to inaugurate a new crusade. Better simply to have made room in the sparse booklet for some information about the various composers and the words of the songs by Vide, Legrant, Grenon, Fontaine & Binchois etc, which are interspersed with instrumental items. The cover picture Portrait of a Young Man of the period, from the National Gallery, London, is savagely bisected!

With better presentation, really not too tall an order, it would qualify for another star. As offered, pleasant background music for a 21st Century supper party, maybe?


Peter Grahame Woolf


Peter Grahame Woolf

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