Author Topic: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.  (Read 10924 times)

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
« Reply #40 on: January 08, 2018, 12:29:52 PM »



Obrecht's music is normally very harmonically interesting - when the different voices interact in the canons you get nice expressive harmonies. My impression is that this aspect is a bit lost in this performance of Missa Grecorum, because it's too blended, blended in a way which makes more consonance than there should be! It's also articulated in a rather fluid way, and I'm not so sure that's the best way to bring out the music's tension and drama.  Theres some sweet music in there, but it leaves me a bit unsatisfied at the moment. I've read that the mass comes from the same period as Missa Rosa Playsante, and Sound and Fury's recording of that has all the qualities which Brabant Ensemble's Missa Grecorum doesn't have. Maybe it has redeeming features, there are certainly some gorgeous moments - the opening kyrie is lovely, for example. I need to live with it a bit longer but I thought I'd make this post in case anyone else has tried it.

There seem to be more singers than necessary to me, and there's no real sense of any of them as individuals.

I haven't heard the motets yet.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2018, 12:39:44 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
« Reply #41 on: January 08, 2018, 12:45:34 PM »


I had a listen to Schmelzer's Si Dedero (Agricola) last week. It's horrible. He's put in  some instrumental music which nearly drowns out the voices!
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kishnevi

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Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
« Reply #42 on: January 08, 2018, 07:30:19 PM »



Obrecht's music is normally very harmonically interesting - when the different voices interact in the canons you get nice expressive harmonies. My impression is that this aspect is a bit lost in this performance of Missa Grecorum, because it's too blended, blended in a way which makes more consonance than there should be! It's also articulated in a rather fluid way, and I'm not so sure that's the best way to bring out the music's tension and drama.  Theres some sweet music in there, but it leaves me a bit unsatisfied at the moment. I've read that the mass comes from the same period as Missa Rosa Playsante, and Sound and Fury's recording of that has all the qualities which Brabant Ensemble's Missa Grecorum doesn't have. Maybe it has redeeming features, there are certainly some gorgeous moments - the opening kyrie is lovely, for example. I need to live with it a bit longer but I thought I'd make this post in case anyone else has tried it.

There seem to be more singers than necessary to me, and there's no real sense of any of them as individuals.

I haven't heard the motets yet.

The copy I ordered is on its way to me.  I'll see if my ears concur with yours when it arrives.

kishnevi

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Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
« Reply #43 on: January 14, 2018, 07:46:02 PM »



Obrecht's music is normally very harmonically interesting - when the different voices interact in the canons you get nice expressive harmonies. My impression is that this aspect is a bit lost in this performance of Missa Grecorum, because it's too blended, blended in a way which makes more consonance than there should be! It's also articulated in a rather fluid way, and I'm not so sure that's the best way to bring out the music's tension and drama.  Theres some sweet music in there, but it leaves me a bit unsatisfied at the moment. I've read that the mass comes from the same period as Missa Rosa Playsante, and Sound and Fury's recording of that has all the qualities which Brabant Ensemble's Missa Grecorum doesn't have. Maybe it has redeeming features, there are certainly some gorgeous moments - the opening kyrie is lovely, for example. I need to live with it a bit longer but I thought I'd make this post in case anyone else has tried it.

There seem to be more singers than necessary to me, and there's no real sense of any of them as individuals.

I haven't heard the motets yet.

Now giving this CD a second listen.

I think you are right about the blending and fluidity of articulation.

But I think I'm more positive about it, meaning I like the results--or at least like it more than your post suggests you did. But the performance style you thought you heard I also heard.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
« Reply #44 on: May 04, 2018, 01:02:40 AM »
Now giving this CD a second listen.

I think you are right about the blending and fluidity of articulation.

But I think I'm more positive about it, meaning I like the results--or at least like it more than your post suggests you did. But the performance style you thought you heard I also heard.

Yes and revisiting this this week I feel much more positive about what they do - I'm glad to have it. Some of the motets especially are impressive. In the past I was focussing too much on the mass. 
« Last Edit: May 04, 2018, 01:22:36 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
« Reply #45 on: October 07, 2018, 09:40:51 AM »


A good performance of the Salve regina a6 here

« Last Edit: October 07, 2018, 10:16:53 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
« Reply #46 on: October 08, 2018, 12:36:20 PM »


The motets here on this Isaac CD are absolutely fabulous, maybe the best thing I’ve heard Tallis Scholars do, certainly one of them - strong and very grand. I made a comment somewhere the other day that Tallis Scholars would be nothing without their sopranos, well some of these motets prove that to be false - in some of them the male voices dominate and they acquit themselves superbly. 
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
« Reply #47 on: March 07, 2019, 12:05:50 PM »


The motets here on this Isaac CD are absolutely fabulous, maybe the best thing I’ve heard Tallis Scholars do, certainly one of them - strong and very grand. I made a comment somewhere the other day that Tallis Scholars would be nothing without their sopranos, well some of these motets prove that to be false - in some of them the male voices dominate and they acquit themselves superbly.

And now I'm listening to the mass, which seems to me also exceptional both in terms of music and performance.

Someone wrote a knocking review of it on amazon.com, saying that they sing too slowly and that the lower parts are inexpressive, but both those points seem wrong to me. Go figure!
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
« Reply #48 on: March 07, 2019, 12:25:17 PM »


The thing I want to say about this is that it's a fabulous mass, recorded elsewhere but Hilliard sing it particularly well, not least because of David James. What makes this recording come off the page so splendidly isn't just that they're on top form, it's that the mass singing is supported by a trumpet. This was  how an Easter mass like this would have been performed, there is an account of Easter masses being performed with trumpets in St Peters in 1554, for example (In Iain Fenlon (Editor), The Renaissance: From the 1470s to the end of the 16th century (Man & Music) (Pagrave 1989))

I'm not sure where the trumpet music comes from, whether there's an extra part in the manuscript.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2019, 02:21:17 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
« Reply #49 on: March 25, 2019, 01:14:22 AM »
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/AhbzJoav7i0" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/AhbzJoav7i0</a>

Obrecht L'homme Arme, Cantus Modalis
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
« Reply #50 on: June 21, 2019, 12:51:40 AM »


There’s been a lot of discussion here about this group, more about their cover art than about what they do with the music they sing. Well I think the cover art is a perfect representation of  their conception of most of Missa Maria Zart - a sort of muscular and spirited angel who doesn’t smile much, arms on the verge of an embrace.

Listening to it I was struck by how close they make the music sound like organ. It’s often Gombert who’s said to be the one who inspired organ polyphony but why not Obrecht also? Beauty Farm are singing Schnitger style, powerful, colourful and stable, firm, sounds in each registrer.

This is a cyclic setting of the mass ordinaries, in context it would have been part of a much bigger ceremony with lots of action, and other music contrasting with Obrecht’s  settings - organ music, chant, maybe other things. Beauty Farm have decided to ignore that tradition and just present the polyphonic cycle. I think that was a bold decision from an interpretation point of view, because they run the risk of not offering enough relief. I’m not sure whether they are good enough at singing to circumvent that risk, whether there’s enough variety in their attacks and colours and harmonies at a local level; whether their articulation unmasks hidden rhetoric at a global level.  I think so, but I need more time with it to be more sure how I feel.

An organ is a machine, and this is a mass for living voices. Whither the humanity? Whither the love? The answer comes at the end - the humanity is in the Agnus Dei! The Agnus Dei came as such a shock given what came before it made me go slightly damp eyed.

« Last Edit: June 21, 2019, 01:07:25 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
« Reply #51 on: June 21, 2019, 06:47:21 AM »



More ramblings on Beauty Farm’s MMZ.

Re my question above about whether Beauty Farm’s articulation unmasks structures, well they are explicitly of the opinion, taken from Wegman,  that there is no long term structure there to be unmasked, and that the mass is a Schubertian or Feldmanian ramble

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this work lives from its free-roaming, seem- ingly directionless spinning-out. It hardly displays any struc- tural or dramatic highlights nor any architecturally planned progressions but, notwithstanding all its variety, invites the listener to trust in its gentle flow instead.

Not only was it a bold decision to present the polyphonic music laid bear, though maybe not a surprising one, it was also bold to:

1. Sing it OVPP
2. Sing it quickly

The former especially surprising since they are sympathetic to the idea that the mass was intended for the choir of a royal imperial court. I guess they are what they are and they wanted to sing it.

To some extent it would be misleading to see Beauty Farm as being exercised too much by these sort of things, if we’re to believe their PR, in a phrase worthy of Marcel Pérès and René Clemencic we read that BF were

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founded . . . . out of passion for vocal polyphony and a kind of despair about the break in the interpretation of this music which took place in the 1980s—beauty farm gathers young sin- gers, leaving traditions behind, willing to experiment and exploring new musical territory

They’re leaving tradition behind in the spirit of free experimentation.

The net upshot of 1 is that there’s great contrapuntal clarity at all times and in all four voices, and there’s less possibility  for dynamic variation and  variation of textures, and maybe 2 makes it harder to give the work an aura of solemnity, mystery. I don’t know, and I don’t say they are necessarily weaknesses either. The speed makes it like it’s got its eyes firmly fixed on its goal - except there ain’t no goal, this isn’t Beethoven.

There’s something in common between Walcha’s Art of Fugue and Beauty Farm’s MMZ. Both absolutely transparent with voix totally égales. Both highlighting the counterpoint in the music. I guess it needs to go without saying that this is only one way amongst many.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2019, 07:19:13 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline JBS

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Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
« Reply #52 on: June 21, 2019, 06:00:22 PM »
Your posts reminded me I have only listened to the first CD of that release. So I'm listening to the second CD, the one Maria Zart, and remember why I only listened to the first CD. The drone quality of the bass singer (Joachim Höchbauer, bothers me. It was not as bad on their DeLa Rue recording, but quite noticeable on their Bauldewyn CD.

I think your description of how they sing MMZ overall is accurate.

My only other recording of MMZ is by the Tallis Scholars, who used 2 people per part and take about three minutes more per movement.
                     BF                 TS
Kyrie            6:13              7:25
Gloria          12:53            16:04
Credo          12:57            15:51
Sanctus       13:29           16:12
Agnus Dei   10:09            13:53

In his liner notes Peter Phillips seems to be saying something similar to what Wegman thinks (though I notice Phillips directly quotes Wegman near the beginning of the booklet).

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It is the impression which Obrecht gives of having had an inexhaustible supply of these motifs and melodic ideas, free or derived, that gives this piece so much of its vitality. The mesmerising effect of these musical snippets unceasingly passing back and forth around the long notes of the central melody is at the heart of the particular sound world of this great work.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
« Reply #53 on: June 21, 2019, 08:36:29 PM »
Everyone reads Wegman who takes Obrecht seriously!
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
« Reply #54 on: June 30, 2019, 12:00:42 PM »


Drop dead gorgeous music and performance here, one of the very best, far surpassing chiché, Nies reveals an Isaac who can write music which is at one and the same time beautiful and surprising and fresh.

Such a shame that the group didn’t record more renaissance music. Nies has a website which suggests that he’s a bit of a mover and shaker on the Munich church music scene, and he’s interested in recent and C 19 music too. He made a Lassus CD which I’ve just ordered, I have very high expectations based on this.

I think one on a part, ladies as well as gentlemen. And tasteful use of instruments, as always seems to be the case with Isaac, I’m not too clear why he gets routinely this treatment, I wonder if the manuscripts specify it. Anyway, I think a bit of brass is a jolly good thing myself.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2019, 12:03:41 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
« Reply #55 on: June 30, 2019, 01:01:19 PM »


Drop dead gorgeous music and performance here, one of the very best, far surpassing chiché, Nies reveals an Isaac who can write music which is at one and the same time beautiful and surprising and fresh.

Such a shame that the group didn’t record more renaissance music. Nies has a website which suggests that he’s a bit of a mover and shaker on the Munich church music scene, and he’s interested in recent and C 19 music too. He made a Lassus CD which I’ve just ordered, I have very high expectations based on this.

I think one on a part, ladies as well as gentlemen. And tasteful use of instruments, as always seems to be the case with Isaac, I’m not too clear why he gets routinely this treatment, I wonder if the manuscripts specify it. Anyway, I think a bit of brass is a jolly good thing myself.

For me, the recording of Missa virgo prudentissima by Dominique Vellard and Ensemble Gilles Binchois is much better.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
« Reply #56 on: June 30, 2019, 08:51:15 PM »
For me, the recording of Missa virgo prudentissima by Dominique Vellard and Ensemble Gilles Binchois is much better.

Does the mass contain untexted music, which Nies uses brass for?
« Last Edit: June 30, 2019, 08:54:51 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
« Reply #57 on: June 30, 2019, 10:09:43 PM »
Does the mass contain untexted music, which Nies uses brass for?

No untexted music performed by instruments, but does include the mass propers with chant.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
« Reply #58 on: June 30, 2019, 10:58:38 PM »
No untexted music performed by instruments, but does include the mass propers with chant.

No, what I meant was, what’s going on in the manuscripts, are there musical lines in the score which Isaac wrote without text? And which Nies deals with with brass?  I thought there was a vague chance you’ve got access to images of the manuscripts.

« Last Edit: June 30, 2019, 11:00:28 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
« Reply #59 on: July 01, 2019, 01:39:16 AM »
No, what I meant was, what’s going on in the manuscripts, are there musical lines in the score which Isaac wrote without text? And which Nies deals with with brass?  I thought there was a vague chance you’ve got access to images of the manuscripts.

I looked at the score at IMSLP and there are no un-texted sections only the Ordinaries set polyphonically:

Movements/Sections 6 movements:
Kyrie –
Gloria –
Credo –
Sanctus –
Benedictus –
Agnus Dei

There is plenty of music Nies could have selected and arranged for horns.