Loyset Compère (1445-1518) was among the first generation of composers to establish a style based on imitation between all the voices—a style that peaked much later in the works of Palestrina and Bach. The Orlando Consort's first recording of Compère was in 1994 (on Metronome). Since then two of the four voices have been replaced by Matthew Venner and Mark Dobell, who are the freshest singers on this disc.
The group seems most at home in the sacred pieces, the Magnificat and O bone Jesu, where their harmonious, 'choral' sound can be put to good use. However, in Dictes moy and Vous me faits (which is all about kissing), they seem somewhat reserved and characterless—these early pieces should not be searingly expressive in the late Renaissance manner, but a little narrative aplomb here and there would not go amiss. However, they display their lively and skilful vocal techniques best in their superb execution of the intricate duets in Mes pensées, and their archly poised performance of the esoterically metaphorical Ung franc archier (though goodness knows what it means). We owe a debt of gratitude to The Orlando Consort for bringing us this pleasing, interesting and innovative music.