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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: 3 minutes 3 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)

Se la face ay pale
1430s; possibly written for Anne de Lusignan on the occasion of her wedding to Louis, Prince of Piedmont and son of Duke Amédée VIII, in February 1434; ballade; 4vv; an elaboration, probably by Dufay, of his 3vv version
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The song Se la face ay pale is brilliant and virtuosic in character rather than lyrically reflective, and belongs to the category of what we might call the ‘public’ (or better, ‘semi-public’) chanson, a type of song that seems designed to make a powerful sonic impact in performance within, say, a ‘representative’ courtly context. It may well have been written for—that is, in honour of—Anne de Lusignan, Louis’s new wife and soon-to-be Duchess. Whether or not it was composed expressly for the wedding, or soon thereafter, it is in any case clearly a work of the 1430s, and a notably advanced one at that. If it did indeed become a kind of musical ‘emblem’ for the House of Savoy, that would make its assumption into a large-scale, celebratory Mass setting all the more fitting.

from notes by Philip Weller © 2009

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