New to me as a composer, it is perhaps unsurprising that Jean Guyot turns out to be a composer of considerable originality and genius—I have learned almost to expect this as I encounter new names from the charmed world of Renaissance Franco-Flemish composition. Known as ‘Castileti’ due to the fact he was born in Châtelet, after some youthful travels, Guyot seems to have spent most of his life in Liège, composing works of entrancing richness and originality such as we hear on this CD. Of the large body of work he surely composed, some chansons in four and eight parts, several motets and a mass survive.
Like the eight-part chansons, many of which favour the lower voices, these motets are texturally dense and in the flowing post-Josquin style—he clearly admired Josquin, writing a twelve-part version of the master’s six-part Benedictus. Like the Scottish composer of music in many parts, Robert Carver, he studied at the University of Louvain and may have known the music of Brumel, while there is definitely something of the darkness of the music of Gombert here too. I always enjoy the rich, blended sound which Cinquecento produce as well as their intelligent readings of the music they perform, and they are the ideal advocates of Guyot’s wonderful music, bringing a superbly professional gleam to his densely scored motets. These are works of exquisite beauty and striking originality, while the concluding Te Deum laudamus is a towering masterpiece of cumulative power and expressiveness, and a work which in Cinquecento’s persuasive performance I found intensely moving. Beautiful music, superb singing, a vibrantly clear recording, fascinating and beautifully written programme notes—it doesn’t get much better than this!