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Missa Dictes moy toutes voz pensées
The Missa Dictes moy toutes voz pensées attracted my attention not because I had ever heard it, or even of it, but because in the Complete Edition it stood out from the other fourteen Masses included there in having an Agnus II which was scored for three basses alone. Being an admirer of gimells (or twinned parts) in the English repertoire I was quick to appreciate a man who wanted to divide a low bass part into three. This scoring was startlingly original, hinting at a mind which preferred sonority above other aspects of composition, and therefore in my book to be trusted. The rest of the Mass repaid my faith, yielding exactly the kind of hidden masterpiece which I was looking for. It is an attractive detail that Mouton chose to base this Mass on a chanson by Loyset Compère, whom he probably replaced as a canon of St Quentin in 1518, where they were both eventually buried.

The three voice parts of Compère’s chanson are treated by Mouton as being three indepen­dent lines of melody, to be realigned and worked against each other at will. An example of this comes immediately, in the opening bars of the first Kyrie, where the melody which one hears first in the chanson – in the alto – now is heard third in the baritone part; and the melody which came in third in the chanson – the tenor – enters before the others in the top voice. Almost all the remaining movements begin with some variation of this technique, culminating in the Agnus III where a second tenor joins the ATBarB of the hitherto basic choir giving a whole new range of polyphonic possibilities (and creating some unfor­get­table dissonances). Interestingly the Crucifixus – a trio created by twinning the alto part and adding a baritone as accompaniment, another gimell in everything but name – seems to be free of Compère’s ideas, though with a polyphonist as resourceful as Mouton one can never be sure of what he has remade.

from notes by Peter Phillips © 2012

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDGIM047 track 6
Agnus Dei
Recording date
Recording venue
Merton College Chapel, Oxford, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Steve C Smith & Peter Phillips
Recording engineer
Philip Hobbs
Hyperion usage
  1. Mouton: Missa Dictes moy toutes voz pensées (CDGIM047)
    Disc 1 Track 6
    Release date: October 2012
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