Tuesday, 20 November 2007

5. Guillaume Dufay - Motets (1420 - c.1447)


Title: O Gemma Lux
Performer: Huelgas Ensemble
Director: Paul Van Nevel
Year: 1999
Length: 69 minutes


As you know no one made isorhythmic motets like Dufay. You didn't? Now you do. Not that Dufay was particularly innovative, but he was a master at what he did and he used a pretty established form in a beautiful awe-inducing way. This is probably the most beautiful record that we have heard until now.

The interplay of human voices and instruments here are something spectacular, it just sounds otherworldly and perfect. Of course as the ancient music that it is it allows a lot of latitude to the performers so a lot of credit has to go to the performers here, and their director who manage to make something really beautiful out of Dufay's music.

Yes, this isn't as exciting as Carmina Burana, or as fun, but for sheer otherworldly effect this is the one to go for. You have several voices reading different texts and being pulled together by sheer genius, it shouldn't work as well as it does, but in the end it becomes all the more esquisite because of it. A brilliant recording which is unmissable.

Final Grade


Track Highlights

1. O sancte Sebastiane
2. Rite Majorem Jacobus
3. Salve flos Tusce gentes
4. Nuper rosarum flores


From Wikipedia:

Dufay was not an innovator, with the exception of a few late works, and wrote within a stable tradition. He was one of the last composers to make use of medieval techniques such as isorhythm, but one of the first to use the harmonies, phrasing and expressive melodies characteristic of the early Renaissance. His compositions within the larger genres, masses, motets and chansons, are mostly similar to each other; his renown is largely due to what was perceived as his perfect control of the forms in which he worked, as well as his gift for memorable and singable melody. During the 15th century he was universally regarded as the greatest composer of the time, and that belief has largely persisted to the present day.

Some guys in Bangkok do a Dufay Motet, Rock On!:

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