Monday, 31 August 2015
Ockeghem - Missa De plus en plus - Orlando Consort
A superb recording
This is a very welcome re-release of this excellent recording originally from 1997. The music is fabulous and the performance by The Orlando Consort is of their usual superlative standard.
Ockeghem was the towering figure in music in the mid-to-late 15th Century. He was not a prolific composer but wrote music of exceptional beauty and quite astonishing technical brilliance. He was revered by composers of the next generation like Josquin and it is easy to see why on the evidence here. The mass setting based on the chanson De plus en plus is beautiful and deeply spiritual and the secular chansons have genuine spirit and real charm in places. (My only complaint about the disc is that they haven't included the chanson on which the mass is based, which is a regrettable omission in my view.)
The Orlando Consort sing it all superbly. Their four male voices give the music the spare beauty it needs to really glow, and they are all true virtuoso singers so the technical demands present little problem. They have a lovely fluency of line and an excellent balance of voices so both the overall beauty of the music and its magnificent internal structures come over perfectly. It is excellently recorded in a resonant but not over-boomy acoustic.
I have two other very fine performances of this mass by The Tallis Scholars and The Clerk's Group but this is my favourite overall. I think the all-male ensemble and one-voice-to-a-part forces give it exactly the right feel. You really can't go wrong here - it's a superb recording and very warmly recommended.