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Missa Missus est Gabriel angelus
composer
4vv; Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Mus. MS F; Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Capp. Sist. 55; Cambrai, Mediathèque municipale, MS 4
author of text
Ordinary of the Mass

Recordings
'Moulu: Missa Alma redemptoris & Missus est Gabriel' (CDA67761)
Moulu: Missa Alma redemptoris & Missus est Gabriel
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67761 
Details
Movement 1: Kyrie
Movement 2: Gloria
Movement 3: Credo
Movement 4: Sanctus and Benedictus
Movement 5: Agnus Dei

Missa Missus est Gabriel angelus
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Missa Missus est Gabriel angelus perhaps represents Moulu’s finest achievement in terms of purely musical expression. Pierre de Ronsard in the introduction to his Livre de mellanges of 1560 described Moulu as a disciple of Josquin (he was numbered alongside eight others, Ronsard’s selection of names exhibiting a notable bias to musicians active in the region of Paris). If a connection between Moulu and Josquin—for which there is no documentary evidence—did exist, this Mass-setting based on a short motet by the older composer would seem to represent the closest approach between their respective styles. Josquin’s motet is characteristic of his four-voice writing in maintaining a sparse texture with the voices imitating strongly memorable phrases. The characteristic rising leap of a fifth at the beginning of the piece exemplifies this trait of Josquin: frequently the voices work in pairs, as at ‘nuntians ei verbum’. Appropriation of plainsong melodies is common in Josquin’s music, as is true of many Renaissance composers: in Missus est Gabriel this is most clearly seen at the words ‘Ave Maria’, where the famous chant is strikingly introduced in the bass, the other voices following at a distance of two breves, all on the same pitch. Finally the closing ‘Alleluia’ is set to an evocative ‘fauxbourdon’ texture—a succession of first inversion chords that frequently was associated with sweetness in early sixteenth-century music.

Moulu’s parody adopts many of the standard techniques for deriving Masses from motets, notably retention of the most arresting moments from the model. For instance, four of the five movements open with the rising fifth motif from the beginning of the motet, the exception being the Credo, which is headed with a homophonic passage—however, the rising fifth is retained in the bass part underpinning the harmony. Similarly, the fauxbourdon texture from the motet returns at the end of the Kyrie and Sanctus movements, where its falling lines create an effectively ruminative close for these supplicatory texts. The section of Josquin’s piece that would have been most immediately recognizable to his and Moulu’s contemporaries is the quotation of the ‘Ave Maria’ chant: this is retained by Moulu but its surprising introduction by the bassus is not: the most obvious statement of the chant is made by the tenor in the ‘Hosanna’ section, the bass harmonizing it in long notes while the soprano and alto exchange a newly composed melody above.

A final characteristic of Josquin that Moulu adopts and extends is strategic repetition. Josquin is known for repeating the same short motif several times in succession (a famous example occurs in the Kyrie of his Pange lingua Mass), and Moulu takes this to almost obsessive levels at times. In the ‘Pleni’ of Missa Missus est Gabriel, which is for the two upper voices only, the same four-note motif occurs no fewer than five times in succession in the soprano, and at the end of this section the alto has four statements of the same melodic fragment. I interpret the musical gesture of the soprano statement as intensifying a drive towards the cadence that is frequently found in early Renaissance music; additionally the ‘Pleni’ exemplifies the concept of varietas, much prized in theoretical treatises of the time, in that while one voice repeats, the other is continuously fashioning new counterpoints against it, working the melodic material to its utmost. The Mass-setting as a whole exhibits an austere beauty that recalls its distinguished model without slavishly aping it.

from notes by Stephen Rice © 2010

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Details for CDA67761 track 2
Kyrie
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-10-76102
Duration
4'06
Recording date
6 September 2009
Recording venue
The Chapel of Harcourt Hill campus, Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Jeremy Summerly
Recording engineer
Justin Lowe
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