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EAC | FLAC (image+.cue, log) | Covers Included | 49:33 | 248 MB
Genre: Classical, Sacred | Label: Ancient Voice Records | Catalog: 001
Vox is an Ann Arbor, MI-based early music ensemble that is performing a cappella Renaissance choral works in a part of the world where just recently they were hard to hear in person. Josquin and the Lost Generation is their debut recording. The disc contains an attractive and interesting program that does a fine job introducing audiences to the live stylistic issues of the early sixteenth century. It opens with three Josquin works that his successors would have known well: the chansons Nimphes napp?s (Draped Nymphs, a splendidly gloomy piece) and Faulte d’argent (Lack of money), and the motet Benedicta es. The rest of the disc is given over to two works that both commemorate Josquin directly and pay him indirect homage by either quoting Josquin’s pieces or starting from their cantus firmus points of departure: the Musae Jovis of Nicolas Gombert (who, we learn, lost his post in a child sex abuse scandal) and the rarely heard Requiem mass of Jean Richafort. The connections are traced nicely in the liner notes, and the listener gets a sense of the issues that engaged composers of the time: how can pieces of a musical model be woven elegantly into a new composition? how can the ideals of balance and of expressive text-setting be reconciled? and how could the old cantus firmus (preexisting vocal line) idea be fit into the humanistic structure that divided a piece into a series of points of imitation, each based on its own textual thought? The selections give a nice sense of the way in which Josquin towered over the music of the sixteenth century as Beethoven did over the nineteenth, and the disc is pleasant to listen to even for those who don’t particularly pay close attention to it.
Does Vox match groups such as the Tallis Scholars for vocal precision and purity? There are a few places (four and a half minutes into Josquin’s Benedicta es being one) where the soprano section might have done well to stay late for an extra rehearsal. Renaissance polyphony, written for the very best voices the great Italian families of the age could procure, is an unforgiving medium. The male voices, however, sound great in the low ranges in which several of these pieces are written. And if we’re ever to reach a point where the masterpieces of Renaissance music become as familiar to the general public as are the Michelangelo sculptures that people flock to see, it is groups like Vox that will make it so. An auspicious debut.
Josquin Desprez (c. 1455-1521)
1. Nimphes Napp?s 2:47
2. Faulte D’argent 2:26
3. Benedicta es 6:22
Nicolas Gombert (c. 1500-1556) 5:14
4. Musae Jovis
Jean Richafort (c. 1480-c. 1547)
5. Introitus: Requiem Aeternam 6:05
6. Kyrie 3:43
7. Graduale: Si Ambulem 5:42
8. Offertorium: Domine Jesu Christe 7:43
9. Sanctus / Benedictus 3:20
10. Agnus Dei I / II / III 2:50
11. Communio: Lux Aeterna 3:21
Vox Early Music Ensemble:
Sopranos – Lorna Young Hildebrandt (tracks: 4), Patricia Rose, Whitnie Crown Wolverton
Altos/Countertenors – Robert Kellerman (tracks: 1, 2, 9), Barbara Madsden (tracks: 2, 7, 9), Jeremy David Tarrant (tracks: 8)
Tenors – Andrew Kuster (tracks: 1, 4, 7, 8), Phil Rodgers (tracks: 4), Jordan Sramek (tracks: 1, 2, 3, 9), Jeff Tabor (tracks: 1, 4, 8)
Baritones/Basses – Tim Krueger (tracks: 1, 2, 7), Chad Runyon (tracks: 2, 8), Glenn Miller (tracks: 1, 7, 9)
Artistic Director – Christopher Wolverton
Founder & Executive Director – Whitnie Crown Wolverton
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