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Hyperion Records

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Job mocked by his wife by Georges de la Tour (1593-1652)
Musée départemental des Vosges, Épinal, France / Lauros / Giraudon / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67696
Recording details: August 2008
The Chapel of Harcourt Hill campus, Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom
Produced by Jeremy Summerly
Engineered by Justin Lowe
Release date: August 2009
Total duration: 23 minutes 49 seconds

'There are many laurels to award in this column, but arguably the biggest, shiniest and bushiest wreath should land on Stephen Rice and his spirited Brabant Ensemble for their outstanding disc of works by Dominique Phinot. What a discovery! Extraordinary music, not least the 'secret chromatic art' exemplified in the motet Pater Peccavi, which deserves the widest hearing thanks to these sinuous, assured performance, captured in an edgy acoustic that enhances the curious architecture of the polyphony' (Choir & Organ)

'The Brabant Ensemble's performances of these fascinating works are as polished and assured as we have come to expect, full-throated yet finely modelled and shimmering with lively intelligence. Rice unerringly finds the right pace for each work … and pays full heed to Phinot's expressive use of contrasting textures. Amidst all the drama of the larger works, the ensemble's caressing, translucent rendition of O sacrum convivium is a particular high point. This is a valuable and engrossing premiere for a neglected and somewhat unconventional sixteenth-century master' (International Record Review)

'Rice has outdone his achievement of the first five discs with this fascinating and rewarding offering. If you have not discovered the Brabant Ensemble yet, by all means start here' (Fanfare, USA)

'If you are to make an investment into a new or unknown composer you need to be able to trust the performers. With the Brabant Ensemble and the musicianship and prowess of Stephen Rice you know that you are in safe hands … awards. They have a gloriously fresh, yet intensely expressive sound, intonation is miraculous and they are aided on each occasion by a superb acoustic and recording' (MusicWeb International)

Missa Si bona suscepimus
4vv; Sex Missae. Liber primus missarum sex. Cum quatuor vocibus ex diversis authoribus excellentissimis noviter in unum congestus (Venice: Gardano, 1544). 1544/1
author of text
Ordinary of the Mass

Kyrie  [2'31] GreekEnglish
Gloria  [5'10] LatinEnglish
Credo  [7'30] LatinEnglish

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In basing a Mass on Claudin de Sermisy’s motet Si bona suscepimus, Phinot followed convention to a much greater extent than in the pieces discussed above. Yet even here expressivity is to the fore: Sermisy’s is one of a large group of settings of this extract from the book of Job, which evidently appealed to sixteenth-century composers for the pathos of its text. The formal plan of Sermisy’s motet is unusually sectional for the period, with several internal repetitions which combine with heavy use of homophony to add weight to the sentiments of the text. Most of the melodic phrases are set in ‘pair imitation’, for instance at the opening of the piece, where the top two voices sing a phrase in two-part counterpoint, which is then repeated by the lower two, with or without additional decoration. This technique was beloved of the preceding generation of composers: Josquin Desprez, and composers active in Milan such as Loyset Compère, are especially known for it. By the 1520s when Sermisy’s setting was presumably composed, this was a slightly archaic device, which combines with the frequent pauses such as those between ‘Dominus dedit’ and ‘Dominus abstulit’ to add poignancy to the suffering of Job.

In Phinot’s Missa Si bona suscepimus these characteristics are exploited frequently: perhaps the most noticeable device is the use of Sermisy’s repeated phrase ‘sit nomen Domini benedictum’ at the ends of movements. Some of Sermisy’s sectionalization survives here also: even though the Mass is short by contemporary standards, the Gloria and Credo are divided into three and four sections respectively, with reduced voices for ‘Domine Deus’ (no bass), ‘Crucifixus’ (no tenor or bass), and ‘Et resurrexit’ (no soprano). However, Phinot also exceeds his model in introducing long melismas that are not found in Sermisy; thus he avoids the pitfall of extending the mournful text-setting of the motet to the entire Mass, much of which is joyful or even ecstatic in nature.

from notes by Roger Jacob & Stephen Rice © 2009

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