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Mary, Queen of Heaven by the Master of the St Lucy Legend
Kress Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDH55423
Recording details: July 2002
All Saints, Tooting, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Neil Hutchinson
Release date: June 2003
Total duration: 34 minutes 35 seconds

'The poise and control of the performers is apparent everywhere' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Elegant performances' (The Daily Telegraph)

'As ever with this ensemble the singing is muscular and clean-cut, with Kirkman's direction bringing out every detail' (Early Music Review)

'Formed in 1995 The Binchois Consort have clocked up just six recordings, all devoted to the sophisticated world of fifteenth-century sacred polyphony. Their efforts have won widespread critical acclaim and their small but ground-breaking discography is now beginning to look like one of the most valuable jewels in Hyperion's already fairly glittery crown. In the hands of The Binchois Consort this extraordinarily personal and deeply internal music resonates down the centuries with immense power' (International Record Review)

'There is no denying the beauty of the performances here. Kirkman's group … pour forth a golden stream of polyphonic textures captured in close and careful sound' (American Record Guide)

'The singing is uniformly excellent, characterized not only by purity of tone and clarity of lines, but by the rich and complex colors produced by the combined voices' (ClassicsToday.com)

'Un programme exceptionnel … que demander de plus? La suite!' (Diapason, France)

Missa Puisque je vis
composer
probable composer of music
author of text
Ordinary of the Mass

Kyrie  [5'13] GreekEnglish
Gloria  [6'28] LatinEnglish
Credo  [8'34] LatinEnglish

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Missa Puisque je vis has been on the fringes of the Dufay canon since 1963, when Laurence Feininger suggested the attribution in his edition of the Mass. Like many of Feininger’s ascriptions to Dufay, this one was made on stylistic grounds which he promised to defend in a monograph that never, in the event, appeared. While his suggestions met with understandable scepticism, the discoveries of subsequent scholarship have garnered strong support for some of his ascriptions on the basis of external evidence. It seemed clear that his connoisseurship—especially considering the state of knowledge in the period in which he was working—was of a remarkably high order, and that any Feininger attribution is worthy of the closest consideration.

The aural impression of the Mass strongly underscores the plausibility of Feininger’s suggestion: to listen to the Missa Puisque je vis against a background of familiarity with Dufay’s musical language is to be immersed in a style that is instantly recognizable. And whether or not (as seems unlikely) we will ever be able to prove Dufay’s authorship of this piece, those who admire his music will quickly appreciate that it is on a level entirely comparable to that of his firmly attributed late Masses. In particular, the Mass shares much with his Missa Ecce ancilla Domini which, with a copying date in the early 1460s, is probably its close contemporary. Both Masses are cast in a texturally open and melodically lucid style of the greatest elegance and flexibility.

Like the majority of Masses of the later fifteenth century, the Missa Puisque je vis is built on the music of a courtly song praising an unattainable lady who, in the context of the Mass, becomes the Virgin, prime intercessor for human souls. The text of the song, whose tenor—in standard fashion—forms the tenor of the Mass, makes the double meaning clear: ‘Ever since I saw the gracious glance and the beauty of my lady and mistress I am filled with joy and regain my happiness, relieved of all the ills I have suffered. Hoping that I may be ever better in her sight, all my life to serve her youthfulness … I wish to hold to the amorous path and the road to love by the straightest route …’ The song survives in ten manuscripts, anonymously in all but one, where it is ascribed to Dufay himself.

from notes by Andrew Kirkman © 2003

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'Hyperion monthly sampler – September 2013' (HYP201309)
Hyperion monthly sampler – September 2013
HYP201309  Download-only monthly sampler   No longer available
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