Author Topic: Josquin Desprez (c1450–1455 - 27 Aug 1521)  (Read 19789 times)

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Online Mandryka

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Re: Josquin Desprez (c1450–1455 - 27 Aug 1521)
« Reply #40 on: February 17, 2016, 01:59:03 PM »
 

I've been listening to two versions of M. L'Homme Armé svm,  Metamorphoses and Tallis Scholars. These are just preliminary impressions, I'm not sure really.

If you listen to the credo of  the mass by Metamorphoses, one  striking thing is the  dynamic variation. I think this happens because they sometimes sing one to a part, sometimes more than one.

The result is that the music has lots of contours, lots of "In your face" drama. Peter Phillips less so. There's drama in the Tallis Scholars recording, but it's less extreme.

When metamorphoses sing et resurexit it made me think of the B minor mass!

There approach to ficta through the mass and dissonance is also interesting. Somehow what they do seems to give each part of the mass its own "tonal" identity. Again Peter Phillips less so.

And there's something which you sometimes read in reviews on Amazon which is applicable here. With Metamorphoses you know all the time you're listening to real people with real personalities. With Peter Phillips less so.

There's a sweetness about Metamorphoses. Tallis Scholars seem firmer, stronger almost.

Tempos of both seem good to me, given their different acoustic environments.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2016, 02:09:32 PM by Mandryka »
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Online Mandryka

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Re: Josquin Desprez (c1450–1455 - 27 Aug 1521)
« Reply #41 on: March 28, 2016, 11:01:29 PM »


This recording by Lucien Kandel with Ensemble Musica Nova is mostly dedicated to Josquin motets, though it is interspersed with organ music by Cavazzoni and the odd motet by others.  Much of the music is unavailable elsewhere on record as far as I know.

The voices cohere: the timbres all resemble each other, and to some extent this means that not so aware of the individual human character of each performer.  This may well be authentic. The style of singing feels über-controlled. I have the feeling that they are working hard and not smiling much.

The organ playing (by Joseph Rassam) is studious and resembles the singing in style.

All the above sounds negative, but that is not really my intended effect. The CD is worth hearing I think, in the same way that some recordings by Quarteto Italiano are worth hearing. And the music is rare and good.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2016, 11:03:05 PM by Mandryka »
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Online Mandryka

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Re: Josquin Desprez (c1450–1455 - 27 Aug 1521)
« Reply #42 on: March 28, 2016, 11:21:56 PM »


The Kandel/Musica Nova can be well appreciated by contrasting it with the singing style in this old CD of Josquin Motets by Dominique Visse and Ensemble Clément Janequin, where the character of each individual voice is much more evident. With this recording you can picture a handful of human beings gathered round a score making music together. Both Kandel and Visse are intense and serious, the former more abstract.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2016, 11:23:29 PM by Mandryka »
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Online Mandryka

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Re: Josquin Desprez (c1450–1455 - 27 Aug 1521)
« Reply #43 on: June 19, 2016, 08:20:20 AM »


The Missa Sine Nomine is a late contrapuntal mass, recorded here by Peter Philips, and very nicely performed - OVPP I think, or if not, close, so you can clearly hear the voices, and polished in a way which is perfect for Josquin's classicism. Unlike J S Bach in the B minor mass, Josquin doesn't woo the listener with memorable melodies. And unlike Obrecht in Missa Maria Zart or Agricola in Missa Myne Zyn, he doesn't woo the listener with obviously virtuosic and convoluted counterpoint. Instead the strength of this mass has something to do with refinement, urbanity. And expression of affect.

The Tallis Scholars voices are  neural, colourless. Angels singing, not people. This makes the music sound very abstract, transcendent and inhuman. Like a gothic ricercar for keyboard  in fact.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2016, 08:28:37 AM by Mandryka »
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Re: Josquin Desprez (c1450–1455 - 27 Aug 1521)
« Reply #44 on: June 19, 2016, 06:23:07 PM »


The Missa Sine Nomine is a late contrapuntal mass, recorded here by Peter Philips, and very nicely performed - OVPP I think, or if not, close, so you can clearly hear the voices, and polished in a way which is perfect for Josquin's classicism. Unlike J S Bach in the B minor mass, Josquin doesn't woo the listener with memorable melodies. And unlike Obrecht in Missa Maria Zart or Agricola in Missa Myne Zyn, he doesn't woo the listener with obviously virtuosic and convoluted counterpoint. Instead the strength of this mass has something to do with refinement, urbanity. And expression of affect.

The Tallis Scholars voices are  neural, colourless. Angels singing, not people. This makes the music sound very abstract, transcendent and inhuman. Like a gothic ricercar for keyboard  in fact.

The booklet lists two singers each for soprano, tenor, altus, and bass, for a total of eight voices.

For some reason the choir sections are listed like that in the credits, but  listed in the normal SATB order for M. ad Fugam, which fills out that CD.

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Offline San Antone

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Re: Josquin Desprez (c1450–1455 - 27 Aug 1521)
« Reply #46 on: January 09, 2017, 09:23:24 AM »
I was surprised to find out there was no thread in the Composer section for Josquin Desprez (or des Prez), so I started this one.  There was a thread called "Josquin Desprez Recordings", but is only one page, so Que moved it here.   :)

Feel free to post anything and everything related to this great composer .

Some historical information from Grove:

That Josquin was the greatest composer of the high Renaissance, the most varied in invention and the most profound in expression, has become almost a commonplace of musical history, thanks to the work of scholars such as those mentioned above and of the steadily increasing number of performers who have helped, both in concert and through their recordings, to make his music known to modern listeners. In some quarters this has provoked, perhaps inevitably, something like a revisionist backlash, both against Josquin’s reputation and against a scholarly mindset that is seen as having fostered it too unquestioningly.

It is undoubtedly true that early generations of music historians were hampered by an incomplete knowledge of the surviving sources – something that has only been remedied by the completion of the University of Illinois’s Census-Catalogue in 1988. It would be unwarranted, however, to deduce from this that previous attempts to establish a canon of Josquin's authentic works were naively uncritical. There is still plenty of room for doubt in individual cases, and in the revised work-list at the end of the present article indications of scholarly disagreement have been given both among those works the authors consider probably authentic and among those they do not. It must be emphasized that all scholars acknowledge a continuum of degrees of doubt between the extremes of those works generally accepted as certainly by Josquin and those recognized as certainly not by him; the main work-list is not confined to the former extreme but also includes many works the authors regard as probably but not certainly authentic, and a fair number of compositions are finely balanced between ‘probably’ and ‘probably not’.

The degree of scepticism employed in attempting to establish the authenticity of individual works will depend on the experience and temperament of the individual scholar, and must thus be to some extent subjective. Moreover, the evidence (whether it concerns the dating and reliability of sources, or the availability of biographical data) will itself usually remain incomplete and uncertain, and hence subject to interpretation. Whatever consensus emerges through the interaction of informed opinions will and should remain fluid, capable of accommodating new evidence, both internal and external – new archival discoveries, new insights into the music. A case in point is the fundamental one of Josquin’s date of birth (see §1 above).

It has also been maintained that Josquin’s legendary supremacy among his contemporaries was essentially a creation of the 16th century, and that his high standing among modern musicologists rests on an attempt to perpetuate, or even enhance, an anachronistic view of him. Wegman in particular (1994 and in Sherr, forthcoming) has claimed that Josquin’s celebrity during his lifetime, or at least until the middle of the first decade of the 16th century, was considerably less than Obrecht’s, though the latter has been less highly regarded ever since. Yet the nature of and grounds for compositorial fame before the second quarter of the 16th century are little understood. It is true that Josquin’s reputation was to benefit more than Obrecht’s from the effect of printing technology on the transmission of music and music theory, but the histories of their employment do not suggest that he had been any less highly regarded during their lifetimes. In contrast to Obrecht, Josquin was essentially a court musician, who by 1504 had been in the service of René of Anjou, Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, the dukes of Milan and Ferrara, Popes Innocent VIII and Alexander VI, and perhaps two kings of France; thereafter he spent the last 17 years of his life as provost of Condé. This scarcely looks like the career of an unregarded composer.

In any case Josquin’s high standing in modern times rests not on the gullible repetition of received ideas, but on the direct experience of a sizable body of music very plausibly attributed to him. If a total, organic picture of his creative development has been slow to appear, and has still, two decades after the previous edition of this dictionary, not come into sharp focus, the reasons are not far to seek. Josquin’s productive career was a long one, perhaps as much as 50 years, and the quantity of his music that survives (even discounting the works doubtfully ascribed to him) is greater than that of any other composer of the period with the possible exceptions of Isaac and Obrecht. But the sources in which this music survives give relatively little help with its chronology. Music printing made its appearance only in the last two decades of Josquin’s life; unlike later 16th-century publications, moreover, which almost always made a point of the novelty of their contents, Petrucci’s earliest collections, both sacred and secular, are clearly anthologies drawn from the repertory of the previous 20 or even 30 years. For Josquin, the dates of Petrucci’s publications provide only a terminus ante quem: how new or old a given composition may have been when it was published is something that has to be decided on other evidence. More surprising, perhaps, is the lack of information to be derived from manuscript sources. Time, war and enthusiasm (both religious and anti-religious) have wrought such destruction on the musical material of the later 15th century that very few manuscript copies of music by Josquin survive from before 1500. Yet the body of his surviving work is so large and so diverse that we cannot conveniently posit the loss of all his early music; some of it at least must be contained in these comparatively ‘late’ sources, though they themselves fail to provide an accurate date for its composition.

Patrick Macey, et al. "Josquin des Prez, 10. Works: canon and chronology." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 9 Jan. 2017. <http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/14497>.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2017, 09:35:04 AM by sanantonio »

Online Mandryka

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Re: Josquin Desprez (c1450–1455 - 27 Aug 1521)
« Reply #47 on: June 09, 2017, 07:24:40 AM »


What Metamorphoses and Biscantor do better than anyone else I can think of in Missa Pange Lingue, is create a feeling of mysticism, where time stands still. This mass, in their hands, is full of this sort of thing. The women's choir Biscantor make the sound fresh and radiant, it's a very attractive sound world I think. Harmonious and lyrical singing, never dissonant or jolting.
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Online Mandryka

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Re: Josquin Desprez (c1450–1455 - 27 Aug 1521)
« Reply #48 on: June 09, 2017, 07:51:24 PM »
Richard Sher's introduction to The Josquin Companion

https://sophia.smith.edu/~rsherr/josintro.htm
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Online Mandryka

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Re: Josquin Desprez (c1450–1455 - 27 Aug 1521)
« Reply #49 on: July 10, 2017, 08:23:36 AM »



Absolve quaesumus, Domine, animam famuli tui
ab omni vincula delictorum;
Ut in resurrectionis gloria, inter sanctos et electos tuos
resuscitatus respiret.
Per Christum Dominum nostrum, Amen.
Requiescat in pace. Amen.


O Lord, pardon we pray the soul of your servant
from all the chains of sin;
That in the glory of the resurrection, he may live again,
revived, among your holy chosen ones.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
May he rest in peace. Amen.

I have four recordings of this motet, which may have been written for Obrecht's funeral - Henry's Eight, Currende Consort, Clerk's Group and King's Singers.

The poem starts off pleading, and there's a poignant reminder of man's sin. The mood rapidly changes to hope in God's salvation. The poem ends with a plea peace for the deceased's soul.

Henry's Eight are bold and imaginative.. I was very impressed by the way they introduce a powerful and moving dissonance on the words "ab omni vincula delictorum." How authentic  this is for Josquin I wouldn't like to say (what was the contenance anglaise exactly?) but I think it is poetically justifiable. The voicing is clear and surprisingly independent, the voices are individually characterful, resulting in complicated and interesting textures.

Currende Consort pull off a fabulous coup de theatre by chanting some of the requiem mass before the motet, it's effective to hear Josquin's music in a liturgical context and I wish that more people recorded it like that. Theirs is a large scale and relatively extrovert performance, as would befit a public occasion like Obrecht's funeral.

King's Singers are meh.

Clerks Group are introverted, transparent, wonderfully executed and perhaps without the imaginativeness or sensitivity to the nuances of the poetry of Henry's Eight.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2017, 09:29:23 AM by Mandryka »
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Online Mandryka

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Re: Josquin Desprez (c1450–1455 - 27 Aug 1521)
« Reply #50 on: July 11, 2017, 07:35:48 AM »
Stabat mater

The grieving mother stood
 Next to the cross, tearful,
  While her son hung,
Whose groaning soul,
 Saddened and grieving,
  The sword pierced.
Oh how sad and afflicted
 Was that blessed
  Mother of the only-begotten,
Who mourned and grieved
 And trembled when she saw
  The punishment of her illustrious son.
Who is one who would not weep,
 If one saw the Mother of Christ
  In such torment?
Who could not be saddened
 To gaze upon the holy Mother
  Grieving with her son?
For the sins of her people,
 She saw Jesus in torture,
  And subjected to scourges.
She saw her sweet son
 Left dying
  While he gave up the spirit.

Come, Mother, fountain of love,
 Make me perceive the force of grief,
  That I may weep with you.
Make my heart bum
 In loving Christ the god,
  That I may be acceptable to him.
Virgin brightest of virgins,
 Do not now be harsh with me,
  Make me lament with you.
Make me carry the death of Christ,
 The prophecy of his suffering,
  And recall his stripes.
Make me wounded by his wounds,
 To be drunk with this cross,
  For love of the Son.
Flaming and burning,
 0 Virgin, may I be protected by you
  On the day of judgment.
Let me be protected by the cross,
 Forearmed by Christ's death,
  Embraced by grace.
When the body dies,
 Let my soul be given
  The glory of Paradise.
Amen.

There's a recording of this one which I think is really outstanding, by Eckerhard Keim and The Dufay Ensemble. I like it so much because it's prayerful, the second part especially is sung with a candour and quiet intensity which I find irresistible.


Labyrintho and Sei Voce sing forth in extrovert gestures.  This is not the style I like, and so despite the wonderful nuance of Walter Testolin's recording especially, it's not for me.

(THe Testolin CD with Missa Pange Lingue is rather good and the Amazon download has acceptable sound. I'm glad to have it before it disappears.)

Ensemble Jachet de Manchue are more introverted in part 1, which is nice but they lose it in part 2.   

I thought Herewegghe sounded interesting, I probably need to give it more attention. I haven't heard Pomerium, I'm going to try to get the recording, but it's not easy to find at an affordable price.

Anyway, it's been nice to respond so positively to Dufay Ensemble.


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Online Mandryka

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Re: Josquin Desprez (c1450–1455 - 27 Aug 1521)
« Reply #51 on: March 02, 2018, 02:22:28 AM »


Peter Philips's Missa Pange Lingua gets a very negative review from someone called "Gio" on Amazon.com, and for years the review put me off listening to the recording. Anyway a friend told me today that he liked what Philips does, so I dug it out.

It was a mistake to so influenced by Gio's review. I think it's a satisfying performance and an interesting and stimulating one. What Gio said he heard I do not hear in the same way. I do not think that it sounds too thin. I do not think that the difference between the timbres of the male and female voices is problematic (I wish he'd have spelled out the problem though!) . I do not think that Philips is sluggish at all, on the contrary I find it sufficiently alert and energetic, given Philips prayerful and introverted conception of the music.

Philips's performance is mostly 2 on a part. The small forces and reflective tempos make it austere as a performance, and sometimes more rapt and  hypnotic than virtuosic and  thrilling. I think that's a major plus aesthetically, all the more so given that this is a mass!

« Last Edit: March 02, 2018, 03:37:29 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Josquin Desprez (c1450–1455 - 27 Aug 1521)
« Reply #52 on: March 02, 2018, 04:03:09 AM »


Peter Philips's Missa Pange Lingua gets a very negative review from someone called "Gio" on Amazon.com, and for years the review put me off listening to the recording. Anyway a friend told me today that he liked what Philips does, so I dug it out.

It was a mistake to so influenced by Gio's review. I think it's a satisfying performance and an interesting and stimulating one. What Gio said he heard I do not hear in the same way. I do not think that it sounds too thin. I do not think that the difference between the timbres of the male and female voices is problematic (I wish he'd have spelled out the problem though!) . I do not think that Philips is sluggish at all, on the contrary I find it sufficiently alert and energetic, given Philips prayerful and introverted conception of the music.

Philips's performance is mostly 2 on a part. The small forces and reflective tempos make it austere as a performance, and sometimes more rapt and  hypnotic than virtuosic and  thrilling. I think that's a major plus aesthetically, all the more so given that this is a mass!

I generally respect what Peter Phillips and the Tallis Scholars do with music from this period and have purchased almost everything they have released  from Hyperion.  Also, I don't read reviews before purchasing once I have decided that I can rely on the performers whom I have enjoyed in the past. 

This disc is no different, and I take the negative comments with a grain of salt, despite coming from an otherwise also reliable Amazon reviewer such as "Gio".

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Re: Josquin Desprez (c1450–1455 - 27 Aug 1521)
« Reply #53 on: October 21, 2018, 07:29:47 AM »
And more from ClassicsToday:

Joy in the Mourning


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Re: Josquin Desprez (c1450–1455 - 27 Aug 1521)
« Reply #54 on: October 21, 2018, 09:49:22 AM »
And more from ClassicsToday:

Joy in the Mourning



How big is Cappella Amsterdam on this? More than twenty singers?

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Re: Josquin Desprez (c1450–1455 - 27 Aug 1521)
« Reply #55 on: October 21, 2018, 11:27:00 AM »
How big is Cappella Amsterdam on this? More than twenty singers?

I'd like to say: I mention it in the review -- but I'll just let you know all the same, hoping you'll click on it, anyway.  ;)

Quote
...As a fitting closing measure Daniel Reuss and his 13 singers (four-to-a-part in the S-T-B setup, plus one alto) add Musæ Jovis...

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Re: Josquin Desprez (c1450–1455 - 27 Aug 1521)
« Reply #56 on: October 21, 2018, 02:49:12 PM »
I'd like to say: I mention it in the review -- but I'll just let you know all the same, hoping you'll click on it, anyway.  ;)

Thank you. I've read the review must have missed that detail.

I'm asking because the Herreweghe recording of somewhat similar repertoire with La Chapelle Royale of some 20-ish singers was despite critical acclaim just too big for my taste. Thirteen might just work as Reuss is fantastic choral conductor, I'll give it a try.

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Re: Josquin Desprez (c1450–1455 - 27 Aug 1521)
« Reply #57 on: March 22, 2019, 05:43:19 AM »




A very negative review of Reuss’s CD here

Quote from: Todd McComb here http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/cds/remarks.html
And I suppose that my continued refrain regarding motets, and so why so many groups are focusing only on mass cycles, has become tedious: Yet motets have long been regarded as Josquin's most significant output, so their neglect is particularly vexing. And so I was happy to see a new program finally appear: Indeed, even seeing the announcement reminded me of the Herreweghe classic (which was, coincidentally, relatively new when the EM FAQ project began, and so my first Josquin recommendation there), but the result felt more like a journey back in time than merely that: I don't mean it in a positive sense either, but rather as a regression in attitude & approach toward the music, i.e. as a renewed attempt to approach it from a later (largely Baroque, i.e. modern) perspective. Reading the liner notes in particular felt almost like my work had never existed: From trivial complaints such as never mentioning Absalon, fili mi at all (and so its more recent attribution to La Rue), to the pat absurdity of claiming that people wouldn't have been able to hear two melodies at once, they're utterly dismissive of a medieval orientation (& without even mentioning the possibility, almost as if part of a "there is no alternative" Thatcherist cant...). The performance follows suit (or perhaps the notes reflect the performance): The earlier repertory is performed in a wretched manner, with absurd ahistorical tuning & ficta, and indeed muddled phrasing that obscures the middle parts almost completely. This jumbled mess of turgid rhythmic interpolations & cadential "tics" does then start to sound almost appropriate by the time of the more motivic Miserere (as the program proceeds mostly chronologically), i.e. the title track & without cantus firmus.... One can barely pick out the tenor elsewhere, and so of course the various chants are obscured, and moreover, rather than emphasizing intervals around the tenor, tuning is allowed to move around (including there, in the "hold" voice) in order to emphasize a smooth, soprano-dominated texture. I haven't read any other discussion of this interpretation to this point, but I have no doubt that it'll be hailed by Baroque-oriented listeners (& people who just love Western imperialism, whatever else they might claim) who — pace e.g. the complaints regarding tuning by Ars Antiqua, which is at least according to a well intended approach, if not fine execution — want their music to sound "angelic" & placidly unchallenging, while anything premodern should indeed seem obscure & pointless. The result is a triumph in this sense! Do I know anything about who Daniel Reuss is? No, other than that he has recorded later music to this point, and that this is supposed to be the start of his series on the Renaissance.... The whole thing comes off as an unrepentant glorification of imperial modernity to me, and so quite far from clashing sorrows.... I mean, to be fair, there are some nice moments where some of the distinctive sweep of the famous motets reveals itself, but in obscuring most of the musical detail, that also comes off as imperious in & of itself. I try not to get too much into negative rants here, but "disappointing" doesn't begin to describe the resulting impact. (And yes, it also makes for something of a meditation on the passing of internet — & so general — relevance for non-commercial sites such as this. None of this should surprise me, yet hearing it really did offend me in a pretty basic way. Boo!) To return to the "back in time" observation, then, this album doesn't prompt me to look back to c.1500, but rather back to c.1980 — or perhaps (itself in distorted form) to c.1600. The latter seems to have been the intent.


In fact I haven’t given it much attention since I made this post last year



The Josquin Pater Noster/Ave Maria with Reuss/Amsterdam Cappella. This is very familiar music to Josquin people, but it’s not familiar to me to hear it sung by so many people. In the booklet we learn that Josquin asked in his testament for it to be sung outside his house . . .

Why can’t four people sing outside?

but I thought I’d paste Todd McComb’s comments here because they contain something interesting I think, the pairing of a baroque approach to medieval music, and imperial/colonial ideology. I don’t know how far he’s developed this thought, whether it’s just superficial (i.e. modern style was developed at the time when the west was colonising) or whether it’s deeper (the aesthetics of modern style, in some sense, and choosing as vague a word as possible, goes hand in hand with colonial ideology.) Something to explore there, no doubt his website contains more about this. For all I know it could be a very well researched area.
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Re: Josquin Desprez (c1450–1455 - 27 Aug 1521)
« Reply #58 on: March 22, 2019, 08:44:57 AM »



A very negative review of Reuss’s CD here

I get the point, I think (it's not super cogently written), in that I am often put off by performances that perform Gluck looking at it from Mozart. But I wouldn't know if that's what is happening here, presumably for lack of exposure to enough medieval music theory.

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Re: Josquin Desprez (c1450–1455 - 27 Aug 1521)
« Reply #59 on: March 22, 2019, 01:33:12 PM »
Mr McComb listened it to it with the ears of a musical historian. I listened to it without such ears, and enjoyed it.

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