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Hyperion Records

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The Annunciation. Panel from an altarpiece (1478/85) by Lorenzo di Credi (1459-1537)
Louvre, Paris / Peter Willi / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67761
Recording details: September 2009
The Chapel of Harcourt Hill campus, Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom
Produced by Jeremy Summerly
Engineered by Justin Lowe
Release date: May 2010
Total duration: 5 minutes 41 seconds

'The Brabant Ensemble happily bring their familiar virtues to bear in sensitive, transparent performances. Musical adventurers will want this recording to discover a superb composer they may not know … Moulu's idiom is pleasingly inventive and immediately engaging' (Gramophone)

'An outstandingly beautiful setting for five voices [In pace], built around a canon. This is a real discovery, and I can imagine it inspiring many choir directors to include it in their repertoires. The Brabant Ensemble's vibrant sound is ideal for this music. Rice is careful never to allow the upper voices to dominate, with the result that the polyphonic workings of all these pieces are clearly audible, something rather rarer than one might think. This is a highly impressive release' (International Record Review)

'The Brabant Ensemble are an eleven-voiced choir, using female altos and sopranos. They sing with a lovely clear, focused tone which allows the polyphony space to flourish and each line is clearly delineated. They sing the Latin with a form of French pronunciation which is entirely suitable for this composer. Moulu is not a showy writer. Stephen Rice and his ensemble allow the composer's distinctive reflective voice to come over in these fascinating and rather enchanting pieces' (MusicWeb International)

'Revel in the bare intervals at the start of the Mater floreat which become a glowing major chord as the inner parts enter. Or the exquisite solemnity of the shorter In Pace. We are also treated to a brief Josquin motet which Moulu used as the model for his own Missa Missus est Gabriel Angelas. All sung with astonishing confidence and beauty of tone by Stephen Rice’s Brabant Ensemble' (TheArtsDesk.com)

Mater floreat
composer
? May 1517; 4vv; solely preserved in the manuscript Florence, Bibliotheca Medicea-Laurenziana, MS Acquisti e doni 666 (‘Medici codex’) presented to Lorenzo II de' Medici on the occasion of his marriage in 1518
author of text
possibly by Moulu and his fellow singers at Meaux

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Several pieces from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries are known as ‘musician motets’ due to their inclusion of named composers. Moulu’s Mater floreat, preserved uniquely in a manuscript presented to Lorenzo II de’ Medici at his wedding in 1518, has one of the longest lists of musicians, including the leading international figures within living memory, from Du Fay through Regis, Busnois, Basiron, Agricola, Obrecht, and so on, finishing with ‘the incomparable Josquin’. The second half of the piece is more particular to the French court, beginning its list of names with Antoine de Longueval, who had become master of the royal chapel in 1515. De Longueval receives the longest share of music in the whole of Moulu’s motet—nineteen bars as against Josquin’s eleven—yet today he his hardly remembered, and of his compositions only two motets, a chanson, and a questionably attributed Passion survive. The remaining French chapel musicians listed are largely minor figures, known to specialists but rarely performed today, with the exception of Jean Mouton. Heinrich Isaac, who is also mentioned in this part of the motet, has no known connection with the Paris court.

That Moulu listed so many musicians who were active at Paris has in the past been taken as indicating that he himself was among their number: more recently, however, a comprehensive survey of music at the court (Christelle Cazaux, La musique à la cour de François I, 2002) revealed no evidence of his presence. It is possible that future research will identify Moulu in some other (perhaps not specifically musical) role at court; in the meantime David Fallows has argued that Mater floreat is best viewed as having been written for entertainment at Meaux rather than in the court environment. This would certainly go some way to explaining the composer’s use of rather obvious Latin puns such as ‘laughing’ or, we might say, ‘hilarious Hilaire’ and ‘fortunate Divitis’ (the latter being a Latinization of ‘Le Riche’ or a similar vernacular name). Quite how the motet made its way into one of the sixteenth century’s most impressive presentation manuscripts for the nobility, if so, remains an open question.

from notes by Stephen Rice © 2010

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