Hyperion monthly sampler – September 2013
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Movement 1: Kyrie
Movement 2: Gloria
Movement 3: Credo
Movement 4: Sanctus
Movement 5: Benedictus
Movement 6: Agnus Dei
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