GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => Great Recordings and Reviews => Topic started by: Mandryka on December 11, 2015, 10:45:06 PM

Title: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: Mandryka on December 11, 2015, 10:45:06 PM
I hope no one minds if I kick this off by asking a question about the early music analogue of the Missa Solemnis, the extraordinary Missa Maria Zart.

How do you find Peter Philips's recording? Has anyone heard the LP by Madrigal Singers of Prague? I'm tempted to get it, but I'd like to know what the style's like first.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51X-LB-e2IL._SS500_.jpg)
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: Mandryka on December 11, 2015, 11:12:06 PM
Other recordings of Obrecht's sacred music I've enjoyed.

Top of the list is Cappella Pratensis's mass. And The Clerks Group recording with the Missa Sub Tuum Praesidium. I have a couple of recordings on order now - Clerks Group doing Missa Malheur me bat, and the CD from The Sound and The Fury. I  also like the mass recording from Oxford Camerata very much.

And then there are all those CDs from Janos Bali and his Hungarian Choir. Does anyone like his way with the music?
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: The new erato on December 12, 2015, 02:50:32 AM
I hope no one minds if I kick this off by asking a question about the early music analogue of the Missa Solemnis, the extraordinary Missa Maria Zart.

How do you find Peter Philips's recording? Has anyone heard the LP by Madrigal Singers of Prague? I'm tempted to get it, but I'd like to know what the style's like first.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51X-LB-e2IL._SS500_.jpg)
I have  the Supraphon LP in front of me writing this, but perversely haven't  had my record player connected to my system for 15 years. I also have the P P CD and cannot remember anything besides liking it. An astounding work and Obrecht probably (?) the most underrecorded polyphonist of them all (Isaac also comes to mind).
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: The new erato on December 12, 2015, 02:55:37 AM
There's also the Missa Sicut Rosa Spinum on this recommended disc:

Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: Mandryka on December 12, 2015, 08:07:12 AM
I have  the Supraphon LP in front of me writing this, but perversely haven't  had my record player connected to my system for 15 years. I also have the P P CD and cannot remember anything besides liking it. An astounding work and Obrecht probably (?) the most underrecorded polyphonist of them all (Isaac also comes to mind).

Does the LP sleeve say what the scale of it is? Do they use instruments? Big choir or small?

This is such an important piece I think -- the Peter Philips recording is very satisfactory too. On amazon you'll read complaining reviews which say that it's boring music, but I think it's full of major events, and has a rigour which, as always with Obrecht, makes me think of composers like J S Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven. If you're not dependent on music stuffed with tunes you can hum and rhythms you can tap your feet to, then I think you'll be bowled over by the mass.  And someone complains that The Tallis Singers are too cold and too risk-averse, but I think that's nonsense.
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: The new erato on December 12, 2015, 08:28:58 AM
Does the LP sleeve say what the scale of it is? Do they use instruments? Big choir or small?

This is such an important piece I think -- the Peter Philips recording is very satisfactory too. On amazon you'll read complaining reviews which say that it's boring music, but I think it's full of major events, and has a rigour which, as always with Obrecht, makes me think of composers like J S Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven. If you're not dependent on music stuffed with tunes you can hum and rhythms you can tap your feet to, then I think you'll be bowled over by the mass.  And someone complains that The Tallis Singers are too cold and too risk-averse, but I think that's nonsense.
Now I'm out of town, I'll  try to remember to chech/czech when I'm back tomorrow.
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: The new erato on December 13, 2015, 05:18:16 AM
Yep, instruments it is.
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: Mandryka on December 13, 2015, 09:06:46 AM
Yep, instruments it is.

Instruments I can live with. However I managed to find a recording of them singing a Dufay mass and it was full of bumpy accents at the beginning of alleged bars, and the voices were shrill. So I think I'll give their Obrecht a miss. But thanks for checking.
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: The new erato on December 13, 2015, 09:11:37 AM
Instruments I can live with. However I managed to find a recording of them singing a Dufay mass
La face ay Pale? I have that as well. Bought at a time when these in many regards were the only game in town. How things have changed!
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on December 13, 2015, 09:21:29 AM
I read somewhere that Obrecht was the first composer to leave a significant body of instrumental music. Are there any recordings focusing on it?
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: Mandryka on December 13, 2015, 01:18:03 PM
I read somewhere that Obrecht was the first composer to leave a significant body of instrumental music. Are there any recordings focusing on it?

I didn't know that he had written purely instrumental music, so I can't help you.
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: Mandryka on December 13, 2015, 01:21:40 PM
Some things by  Obrecht sound like no one else that I know. I've been listen the Christmans motet Factor Orbis (The Clerks Group) together with the commentary by Jennifer Bloxam here.

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=n0ct5-2sQ9gC&pg=PA174&lpg=PA174&dq=obrecht+factor+orbis+exegesis&source=bl&ots=0j_GVrJomS&sig=zP5OF6qvKNQdd9BDYcE-rwBuW1w&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjjyuq_4NnJAhXLcRQKHfaOAZ8Q6AEIKTAB#v=onepage&q=obrecht%20factor%20orbis%20exegesis&f=false

So it looks as though Obrecht was writing exegetical music. This is new territory for me, I know that people argue that Bach's choral preludes are musical exegeses, but I've never seen it argued for any other composer.
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: Florestan on December 13, 2015, 01:23:58 PM
Some things by  Obrecht sound like no one else that I know. I've been listen the Christmans motet Factor Orbis (The Clerks Group) together with the commentary by Jennifer Bloxam here.

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=n0ct5-2sQ9gC&pg=PA174&lpg=PA174&dq=obrecht+factor+orbis+exegesis&source=bl&ots=0j_GVrJomS&sig=zP5OF6qvKNQdd9BDYcE-rwBuW1w&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjjyuq_4NnJAhXLcRQKHfaOAZ8Q6AEIKTAB#v=onepage&q=obrecht%20factor%20orbis%20exegesis&f=false

So it looks as though Obrecht was writing exegetical music. This is new territory for me, I know that people argue that Bach's choral preludes are musical exegeses, but I've never seen it argued for any other composer.

What do you mean by exegetical?
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: Mandryka on December 13, 2015, 01:24:41 PM
La face ay Pale? I have that as well. Bought at a time when these in many regards were the only game in town. How things have changed!

No it was Ave Regina Caelorum
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: Mandryka on December 13, 2015, 01:29:05 PM
What do you mean by exegetical?

I mean that the music contains a commentary on the associated text.
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: Florestan on December 13, 2015, 01:37:08 PM
I mean that the music contains a commentary on the associated text.

Then the most exegetic music there is must be Kuhnau´s Biblical Sonatas.  :D
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: Mandryka on December 13, 2015, 01:43:33 PM
Then the most exegetic music there is must be Kuhnau´s Biblical Sonatas.  :D

It depends. If it comments on and elucidates the texts, revealing subtle or hidden meanings, then yes. If it just depicts  the text, then, well . . . it's not very interesting from this point of view. It's like the difference between a sermon by Luther and a picture from a children's bible. I haven't explored Kuhnau much.
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: Florestan on December 13, 2015, 01:46:16 PM
It depends. If it comments on and elucidates the texts, revealing subtle or hidden meanings, then yes.

Opera in a nutshell.  :D

Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: Mandryka on December 13, 2015, 02:00:54 PM
Opera in a nutshell.  :D

Yes. When I started to listen to and read about Factor Orbis I couldn't stop myself thinking of those quintets and sextets in Cosi fan Tutte. And what a shame it is that Wagner didn't complete his Buddhist opera, or the Gospel of St Matthew. Of course, the best exegetical music is when the text isn't actually there.

I think that History of Photography in Sound is probably exegetical. But I'm not sure.
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: Florestan on December 13, 2015, 02:04:35 PM
Yes. When I started to listen to and read about Factor Orbis I couldn't stop myself thinking of those quintets and sextets in Cosi fan Tutte.

Soave sia il vento, perhaps certainly the most heartfelt trio ever.  8)
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: kishnevi on December 13, 2015, 06:54:13 PM
I read somewhere that Obrecht was the first composer to leave a significant body of instrumental music. Are there any recordings focusing on it?

Not sure if this qualifies as focused on instrumental...

Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: Mandryka on December 19, 2015, 05:19:03 AM
Not sure if this qualifies as focused on instrumental...



Voices figure highly in it.
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: kishnevi on December 22, 2015, 07:36:25 PM
I hope no one minds if I kick this off by asking a question about the early music analogue of the Missa Solemnis, the extraordinary Missa Maria Zart.

How do you find Peter Philips's recording? Has anyone heard the LP by Madrigal Singers of Prague? I'm tempted to get it, but I'd like to know what the style's like first.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51X-LB-e2IL._SS500_.jpg)

Listening to this recording now.  M. Maria Zart is totally new to me, but what strikes me is how the music seems like aural filigree, with the voices moving in, out, around each other...and the text itself is almost irrelevant, with syllables and words popping out of the music at random intervals.  Minimalism five centuries ago.

Or is that simply the result of how Phillips treats the music.  Do other recordings of this mass produce a similar result?
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: Mandryka on December 22, 2015, 10:20:36 PM
Listening to this recording now.  M. Maria Zart is totally new to me, but what strikes me is how the music seems like aural filigree, with the voices moving in, out, around each other...and the text itself is almost irrelevant, with syllables and words popping out of the music at random intervals.  Minimalism five centuries ago.

Or is that simply the result of how Phillips treats the music.  Do other recordings of this mass produce a similar result?

I don't know. I'm not clear what Obrecht is doing with the mass text; I don't know any other recordings of MMZ.


Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: kishnevi on December 23, 2015, 05:53:35 PM
I don't know. I'm not clear what Obrecht is doing with the mass text; I don't know any other recordings of MMZ.

Went off to look at AmazonUS:  if their listings are correct, there is no other recording! There is no listing for the Madrigal Singers of Prague LP.  Erato will need to do his duty and hook up that record player.

However, thinking it over, the mimimalist tendencies may owe more to Phillips than to Obrecht:  the two modern composers he has focused on are Taverner and Part.
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: Cato on December 23, 2015, 06:16:29 PM
YouTube offers a Hungarian group singing the Missa Maria Zart:

https://www.youtube.com/v/HZqTqXf6080&list=PLB9F6E8A444AC7693


And here is a link to the score:

http://www1.cpdl.org/wiki/images/1/11/Obrecht-Missa-Maria-zart-score.pdf (http://www1.cpdl.org/wiki/images/1/11/Obrecht-Missa-Maria-zart-score.pdf)
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: Mandryka on December 25, 2015, 02:04:37 PM


And here is a link to the score:

http://www1.cpdl.org/wiki/images/1/11/Obrecht-Missa-Maria-zart-score.pdf (http://www1.cpdl.org/wiki/images/1/11/Obrecht-Missa-Maria-zart-score.pdf)

I can't get the score to load on my tablet here, and I don't know if it's edited. But I'd be very curious to know if in the oldest manuscripts there are things like time signatures and bar lines.
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: Mandryka on December 25, 2015, 02:13:35 PM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51JUY-O0gQL._SY355_PJautoripBadge,BottomRight,4,-40_OU11__.jpg)

The style of M. Caput is so different from MMZ or M. Fortuna Desperata, so much less austere, that you could easily not believe they are by the same composer. More fancy twiddly music is hard to imagine. The performance here communicates  Oxford Camerata's commitment. Transparent, a little lacking in the bass department maybe, but that's to nitpick. The phrasing sounds natural, not like it's been pulsed, more like it's been blown by the wind. Tempos make the music sound contemplative, but not languid. They use dynamic contrasts to help give the music some contours - but  we're not quite at the depth of chiaroscuro that groups like De Labyrintho and Métamorphoses have given to Josquin, maybe the music won't allow it.
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: (: premont :) on December 25, 2015, 02:35:00 PM
I can't get the score to load on my tablet here, and I don't know if it's edited. But I'd be very curious to know if in the oldest manuscripts there are things like time signatures and bar lines.

On this link you can see the first short part of the original notation without barlines, followed by the editors version with added  bar lines..

http://www0.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/File:Obrecht-Missa-Maria-zart-score.pdf
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: kishnevi on December 25, 2015, 05:38:48 PM
On my tablet the link merely led to the wiki home page.  I had to find the Obrecht page, and then download the Maria Zart from that.

Perusing the provided incipits, if they are faithful to the original, no bar lines were provided but time and key signatures were.

But one question of performance practice struck me. 
Obrecht many times wrote long lines, over three or more measures, for a single syllable.  For an immediate example, in the opening Kyrie, the soprano/discantus starts the second syllable of "eleison" on the first note of bar 5 and continues it through the middle of bar 10 before devoting the last third of the bar to the final two syllables*.   Obrecht seems to have expected his singers to either use a relatively quick tempo or have very good breath control.  But my question is this:  the modern editor uses no slur lines.  Would the singers of Obrecht's day have sung those parts as if slurred, or more staccato, with each note separated, as a modern musician might if confronted with the lack of slurs?

*If my count is right, the discant and altus are short one quaver/eighth note in that measure, while the tenor and bass have a full count matching the time signature of 3/2.  Deficit editing?
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: Cato on December 26, 2015, 05:38:33 AM


*If my count is right, the discant and altus are short one quaver/eighth note in that measure, while the tenor and bass have a full count matching the time signature of 3/2.  Deficit editing?

I believe that is called rubato!   ;D   0:)
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: Mandryka on December 26, 2015, 09:40:29 AM
Isaac also comes to mind.

Do you like Isaac?

(http://rymimg.com/lk/f/l/793e8a97a9528c63e5ac5fdee7de2a86/3794108.jpg)

I've started to listen to this one by Cappella Pratensis with mixed feelings, M. Paschale.

On the plus side,  it's certainly not reverential and stodgy (two problems I've had listening to Isaac in the past.) It's transparent and it sounds like real human voices over the speakers - OVPP no doubt. Their edition uses ficta pretty creatively as far as I can tell, which stops the music feeling too tame.

But it all feels a bit long winded, not interesting enough to sustain you for the duration. The  organ improvisations (instead of chant)  don't help, and you can't programme them out. If I were in church I'd be looking at my watch and squirming in the seats I think.
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: The new erato on December 26, 2015, 12:56:44 PM
I find Isaac to be a bit all over the place. He gives the impression of a gifted though not always very disciplined chap.
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: Mandryka on December 27, 2015, 02:36:38 AM
YouTube offers a Hungarian group singing the Missa Maria Zart:

https://www.youtube.com/v/HZqTqXf6080&list=PLB9F6E8A444AC7693


And here is a link to the score:

http://www1.cpdl.org/wiki/images/1/11/Obrecht-Missa-Maria-zart-score.pdf (http://www1.cpdl.org/wiki/images/1/11/Obrecht-Missa-Maria-zart-score.pdf)

That's a good find because the ANS did not release a commercial recording of MMZ. I've listened to just one of their commercial recordings, M. Malheur me bat, but it seemed a bit workmanlike and earthbound. This MMZ is live I think, I've only had a chance to hear the Kyrie and Gloria so far but it sounds vigorous and extrovert -- a very different style from Tallis/Phillips. And the fact that it's a boy band helps! But there are too many voices on a part really. Thanks for posting it.
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht
Post by: Mandryka on December 27, 2015, 09:10:13 AM
There's also the Missa Sicut Rosa Spinum on this recommended disc:



This may just be the best Obrecht mass performance I've heard, thanks for pointing it out. The credo is magic, with those high voices soaring.

I should say that I haven't heard Clerks Group's M. Malheur me bat, it has been ordered and I have high expectations.
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: Mandryka on January 03, 2016, 11:16:31 AM
(http://rymimg.com/lk/f/l/17900f8b5ec64af4bbf8724f08920b63/2125783.jpg)

Great disappointment with Clerks' Group's M.malheur me bat, which leaves me cold. There are some fine moments. The kyrie is intimate, there's a fabulous climax at the start of the Gloria, some nice word painting in the crucifixus and a wonderful change of affect for qui tollis, the Sanctus is suitably holy sounding. It may be the performance, it may be the music, it may be me.

I have an intuition that the mass would work well in a  transcription (for organ of course!) You can really hear what must have inspired people like Titelouze and Arauxo.
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: Mandryka on January 17, 2016, 09:40:23 AM
(http://rymimg.com/lk/f/l/17900f8b5ec64af4bbf8724f08920b63/2125783.jpg)

Great disappointment with Clerks' Group's M.malheur me bat, which leaves me cold. There are some fine moments. The kyrie is intimate, there's a fabulous climax at the start of the Gloria, some nice word painting in the crucifixus and a wonderful change of affect for qui tollis, the Sanctus is suitably holy sounding. It may be the performance, it may be the music, it may be me.

I have an intuition that the mass would work well in a  transcription (for organ of course!) You can really hear what must have inspired people like Titelouze and Arauxo.

I think this is grossly unfair. The mass is a fine piece of music, exhibiting the sort of comprehensive coherence that is Obrecht's trademark. I do not think it is as impressive as MMZ, and I don't think that Clerks' Group are as fabulous as The Tallis Scholars in Obrecht. But still, after hearing it umpteen times, I can say this MMMB is a very valuable performance to have on record, and infinitely better than the version from the Hungarians.
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: Mandryka on February 15, 2016, 01:49:55 PM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61WI2wNWyQL._SX355_.jpg)

Revisiting Missa Fortuna Desperata. Somewhere I'd got in the back of my mind that the music is abstract, but the more you know it the more you realise that the mood of the music is in fact a reflection of the meaning of the text, for example "tu solus Dominus." I guess this would have been  evident to contemporary audiences, I need to know the latin mass better I think.

Anyway, the more you know it the more great it sounds. And it sounds enormous, like the structure is so rich and complex  that it's elusive, you could never hold it in your mind. The thing is made even more elusive because it's not obviously imitative - I'm not hearing canons, but I'm very obtuse so I could be missing them! You don't have that reassurance of a previously heard tune like you do in a Art of Fugue.

I remember feeling a bit like this, confusion and wonder, when I first listened to op 131 and (much) more recently to Ferneyhough SQ 6. It's good that that feeling can come back.
Title: Re: Recordings of the music of Jacob Obrecht & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: Mandryka on March 25, 2016, 12:45:11 AM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61WI2wNWyQL._SX355_.jpg)

Returning to Sound and Fury singing M Fortuna Desperata, the think that knocked me out most was the depth of feeling in  the  Agnus Dei.
Title: Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: Mandryka on April 27, 2016, 08:19:00 AM
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51klE56OW9L.jpg)

More than Heinrich Isaac, it's Alexander Agricola who seems to me to have things in common with Jacob Obrecht, at least in the late mass (M. In myne zyn)  on this CD by Dirk Snellings/ Capilla Flamenca. The mass is huge, the imitation, variation and polyphony sound pretty complex, and although I can't prove it, I feel it has the same feeling of unity as the late Obrecht masses. And the same feeling of an uncompromising genius mind at work.

For some reason, Snellings interleaves viol music with the mass movements.
Title: Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: Mandryka on January 08, 2018, 12:29:52 PM
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81occF9u2nL._SX711_.jpg)


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.
Title: Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: Mandryka on January 08, 2018, 12:45:34 PM
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51do1xw6sKL.jpg)

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!
Title: Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: kishnevi on January 08, 2018, 07:30:19 PM
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81occF9u2nL._SX711_.jpg)


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.
Title: Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: kishnevi on January 14, 2018, 07:46:02 PM
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81occF9u2nL._SX711_.jpg)


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.
Title: Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: Mandryka 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. 
Title: Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: Mandryka on October 07, 2018, 09:40:51 AM
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51JUY-O0gQL.jpg)

A good performance of the Salve regina a6 here

Title: Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: Mandryka on October 08, 2018, 12:36:20 PM
(https://i.scdn.co/image/afaf2e9b79a9bd2247d4192e93e2a6322cabda1e)

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. 
Title: Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: Mandryka on March 07, 2019, 12:05:50 PM
(https://i.scdn.co/image/afaf2e9b79a9bd2247d4192e93e2a6322cabda1e)

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!
Title: Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: Mandryka on March 07, 2019, 12:25:17 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/0z2Ja9l.jpg)

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.
Title: Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: Mandryka on March 25, 2019, 01:14:22 AM
https://www.youtube.com/v/AhbzJoav7i0

Obrecht L'homme Arme, Cantus Modalis
Title: Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: Mandryka on June 21, 2019, 12:51:40 AM
(https://www.highresaudio.com/imgcache/4f3f320a91825011798db7f4abcf5ead/tfm4r3-obrechtmas-preview-m3_550x550.jpg)

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.

Title: Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: Mandryka on June 21, 2019, 06:47:21 AM
(https://www.highresaudio.com/imgcache/4f3f320a91825011798db7f4abcf5ead/tfm4r3-obrechtmas-preview-m3_550x550.jpg)


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

Quote
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

Quote
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.
Title: Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: JBS 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).

Quote
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.
Title: Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: Mandryka on June 21, 2019, 08:36:29 PM
Everyone reads Wegman who takes Obrecht seriously!
Title: Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: Mandryka on June 30, 2019, 12:00:42 PM
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/612PVJgdk4L._SY355_.jpg)

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.
Title: Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: San Antone on June 30, 2019, 01:01:19 PM
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/612PVJgdk4L._SY355_.jpg)

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.
Title: Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: Mandryka 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?
Title: Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: San Antone 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.
Title: Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: Mandryka 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.

Title: Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: San Antone 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.
Title: Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: Mandryka on July 01, 2019, 07:26:24 AM
Thanks for doing that. I wonder why it is that Isaac is so often presented with instruments, maybe I'm wrong but my impression is he gets this treatment more than others.


And yet, ironically,  my memory is that Cantica Symphonia did an Isaac mass with just voices!

Up to now I've found Cantica Symphonia's recording completely uninspiring.
Title: Re: Jacob Obrecht, Alexander Agricola & Heinrich Isaac.
Post by: Mandryka on July 22, 2019, 07:58:40 PM
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71JYlVLGGCL._SL1200_.jpg)

A rerelease of masses (Beata Maria Virginie) made over 10 years ago, and a disc of motets.  Fluid, serious and controlled singing, all male but IMO not too extrovert and agressive, as far as I can see OVPP a capella. Textures tend to be consistently rich rather than light and airy.

Masses are sung both chanted and with organ alternatim. I don’t know what instrument or music is being played, or indeed being chanted. The contrast between the chant and Isaac’s settings is sometimes very surprising, and IMO underlines Isaac’s originality.

Alternatim was clearly all the rage at the time, as you get passages of plainsong even in the motets!

Listening to this I was struck by two of their decisions: to sing a capella and to use an ensemble which is all male. I don’t know if it was the best decision, I have my doubts about that, especially in the motets, where I missed the lightness and soaring quality that the sopranos brought to Cantica Symphonia’s Isaac recording, and the noble sonority of brass accompaniment. The motets in Maletto’s CD impress me more and more each time I go back to them.

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71AqfTh1FaL._SL1500_.jpg)