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Hyperion Records

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Christmas Mass in the ducal chapel (Sainte-Chapelle), Chambéry (Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, fol. 158r) by Jean Colombe (c1430/35-c1493)
Musée Condé, Chantilly, France / Giraudon / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67715
Recording details: February 2008
Chapel of All Souls College, Oxford, United Kingdom
Produced by Adrian Peacock
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: January 2009
Total duration: 24 minutes 19 seconds

'Se la face ay pale remains Dufay's most approchable mass … this is easy, effortless musicianship  … the balance is superb, and all lines are presented in a free and supple manner that projects the music very well' (Gramophone)

'Dufay was one of the greatest composers of the 15th century … half a dozen recordings of Dufay's Missa Se la face are available but Kirkman's sweeps the board … performances of great clarity, pliancy and historical value … a confirming display of excellence and insight' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Dufay's Missa Se la face ay pale provides the backbone for this gloriously performed disc from the eight male voices of the pure-toned Binchois Consort. Contrasting motets and mass propers, works of sublime clarity, are rewardingly interspersed … the results are mesmerising' (The Observer)

'The singers more than adequately realise their stated aim of bringing the opulent Court of Savoy to life … the singing on the CD is mellifluous and animated, the pronunciation authentic … and both the liturgical context and the confidence of the performance make this a valuable addition to our understanding of Dufay's output' (Early Music Review)

'This ensemble has now recorded five masses credited to Dufay, an achievement of considerable stature … as well as giving a fine rendition of the music, Kirkman's Dufay disc also adds relevant music to broaden our understanding of the period' (Fanfare, USA)

Missa Sancti Mauritii
late 1440s; Trent manuscript 88, Museo Provinciale d'Arte; Missa Sancti Mauritii et sociorum eius et in natale plurimorum maritirum
author of text
Propers for Saint Maurice

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
An elaborate polyphonic Mass to be celebrated in honour of St Maurice arguably makes sense nowhere else in Europe than in Savoy at this period. (It may be noted in passing that the saint was important for René d’Anjou as well, and is famously depicted in a background sacra conversazione in an altarpiece painted for René by Nicolas Froment in order to to be offered to the Carmelite convent at Aix-en-Provence, where it remained until the Revolution.) The music for such a celebration was in all probability written with the Order of St Maurice in mind, thus on commission from Savoy. But it has also been suggested, by Alejandro Planchart, that this could well have happened in the later 1440s, while Dufay was still resident in Cambrai but evidently very much in contact with his Savoyard patrons (and indeed would travel through the Duchy as far as Turin in the late spring of 1450 on his way into Italy with a group of singers, perhaps bound for Padua). In the Proper movements for St Maurice Dufay paraphrases the relevant chants in the cantus with a beautiful, unobtrusive melodic and rhythmic control, underpinning this wide-spanned top part with two skilfully contrived tenor parts (three in the Offertory, and one in some duo sections). These lower voices, working together in tandem within broadly the same range, extend and colour the modal-harmonic field of the cantus and help to give it direction, intensity and cadential force.

from notes by Philip Weller © 2009

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