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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67474
Recording details: January 2004
All Saints, Tooting, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Neil Hutchinson
Release date: March 2005
Total duration: 3 minutes 27 seconds

'these singers are superbly experienced in this kind of repertoire, and they thrill us with the supple lines of the Alleluia, the vigour of the Credo and the swirling counterpoint of the Sanctus … These singers are at their best, though, in the Binchois Agnus—sustaining the endless phrases with great continuity and musical sense' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This is exquisite, intricate music, and the Binchois Consort are ideal interpreters of its subtleties—and they're even more persuasive in the motets and Mass movements by their namesake' (The Independent)

'The Binchois Consort have by now established themselves as pre-eminent interpreters of Dufay's sacred music. Andrew Kirkman has an unfailing touch in matters of tempo, rhythm and vocal balance. The all-male voices are svelte, polished and immaculately in tune. The Consort's beautifully burnished tone is well served by the sympathetic acoustic of All Saints Church, Tooting, faithfully captured by Hyperion's engineers. Add to these an unusually expansive and informative set of booklet essays by Philip Weller and the whole package is irresistible' (International Record Review)

'This is music of spellbinding beauty, and Kirkman's team deliver it superbly' (The Times)

'The blend is immaculate, the sound refined, the impetus well sustained. They relish the play of lines. And they sound devout' (The Sunday Times)

Agnus Dei
author of text
Ordinary of the Mass

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The three mass movements are written in an essentially lyric idiom which, while being notably concise, nevertheless shows a clear sense of musical shape and contour, as well as a liking for occasional harmonic twists and moments of melodic daring. These details serve to give point and focus to the polyphony, and endow it with a sense of eventfulness within its relatively short span. The movements show a close functional and stylistic relationship to the ‘workaday’ plainchant idiom with which every musician of the era would have been familiar, and with which his whole sense of melodic profile would have been imbued. But Binchois shows a special sensitivity to the ways in which polyphonic ‘interval music’ of this kind can be made to subtly extend and intensify, by harmonic means, the aura that surrounds monophonic lines, while still staying close to both the letter and the spirit of the chant melodies. The Kyrie ‘in simplici die’ in particular has a beautiful – and beautifully simple – chant, found nowhere else except for the fragment used in Nove cantum melodie, and which in its (reconstructed) alternatim form shows a clear musical growth through the series of nine invocations to the final extended polyphonic ‘Kyrie eleison’. From their presentation in the manuscript sources, where they are provided with the plainsong intonations heard here, the Sanctus/Agnus pair might well appear to be chant-based too. But, unusually for Binchois in such movements, they too lack a known chant model, and in this case it is much less easy to decide whether or not the music does in fact refer to such a model (though the intonations at least should in theory be traceable). If, in contrast to the exciting complexities of Nove cantum melodie and to the poise and flow of Domitor Hectoris, these mass movements of their very nature tend to show us the succinct, even aphoristic side of Binchois’s art, they are nevertheless expressive of an idiom which, within its economy and concision, also implies more than it states, and thus is able to achieve an unobtrusive sophistication in even its simplest lyric utterances.

from notes by Philip Weller © 2005

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