Saturday, 19 December 2015

Dufay - Motets Vols. 1 & 2 - Cantica Symphonia

Rating: 5/5

Fine Dufay recordings

Both these discs of Dufay's motets by Cantica Symphonia are excellent, I think.  They are mainly isorhythmic motets and almost all have some instrumental accompaniment.  This doesn't always work for me, but here I think it is extremely effective.  Dufay's mid-15th Century polyphony can sound a little dry and forbidding to my ears when sung a cappella, and here the discreet fleshing out of the sound with period instruments gives it a warmth and depth which I find very satisfying and which adds to the music's spiritual feel.  (And I think the a cappella pieces, especially Salve Regina, sound very lovely, too.)

I like the performances very much.  The singers and instrumentalists are technically very good, and the balance and overall sound is lovely.  They do cut between different singers on individual lines which I know annoys some people, but I find the effect very pleasing much of the time, and the choir seems to me to be up to the challenge of making this approach work well.

Overall I think these are my favourite Dufay discs – they are certainly the ones I find most accessible.  Glossa make their usual lovely job of both packaging and recording, which is warm and resonant without losing the distinctness of lines.  I can recommend both of these discs very warmly.

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