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Missa L'homme armé sexti toni
author of text
Ordinary of the Mass

'Josquin: L'homme armé Masses' (CDGIM019)
Josquin: L'homme armé Masses
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'Josquin: The Tallis Scholars sing Josquin' (CDGIM206)
Josquin: The Tallis Scholars sing Josquin
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'Renaissance Radio' (CDGIM212)
Renaissance Radio
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Movement 1: Kyrie
Movement 2: Gloria
Movement 3: Credo
Movement 4: Sanctus and Benedictus
Movement 5: Agnus Dei I, II & III
Movement 5c: Agnus Dei III

Missa L'homme armé sexti toni

Josquin’s Mass Sexti toni (‘in the sixth mode’) is so called because he has transposed the melody to make its final note F (as opposed to the more normal G), giving it a major-key tonality. This element of transposition is one of the features borrowed from Super voces musicales, though there, it was turned into a constructional principle. The idea of stating the melody in retrograde has also been transferred from the other Mass, though instead of giving the direct and retrograde forms in consecutive statements as he did before, here in the third Agnus Dei Josquin states them both at the same time. These form the lowest two parts in a movement where the number of voice-parts has been increased from four to six, and the upper voices are in two paired canons at the unison. While this shows exceptional compositional virtuosity, the actual sound in this final Agnus Dei is most unfamiliar, suggesting, if anything, the methods of such modern minimalist composers as Philip Glass.

The remainder of the setting seems more relaxed though, in fact, Josquin can be heard to be constantly trying out new speeds, new rhythms and new scorings for the L’homme armé tune, now complete, now with a few notes used as the basis for an ostinato pattern or a canon. The wide overall range of the four voice-parts brings to the writing the kind of sonority which is associated with Palestrina, and Josquin constantly uses this to imaginative effect, nowhere more memorably than at ‘Et resurrexit’ in the Credo. For showing all these different aspects of his extraordinary technique, this Mass must rank as one of the most accomplished productions of a composer long held to be the greatest writer of his time.

from notes by Peter Phillips © 1989

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDGIM019 track 8
Recording date
Recording venue
Salle Church, Norfolk, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Steve C Smith & Peter Phillips
Recording engineer
Mike Clements & Mike Hatch
Hyperion usage
  1. Josquin: L'homme armé Masses (CDGIM019)
    Disc 1 Track 8
    Release date: November 1989
    Deletion date: December 2013
    Download only
  2. Josquin: The Tallis Scholars sing Josquin (CDGIM206)
    Disc 2 Track 8
    Release date: March 2006
    2CDs for the price of 1
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