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Dufay: Music for St James the Greater [CD]

Andrew Kirkman Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: £6.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

Dufay: Music for St James the Greater + Dufay: Music for St Anthony of Padua + Dufay: Missa Puisque Je Vis [The Binchois Consort, Andrew Kirkman] [Hyperion: CDH55423]
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Product details

  • Conductor: Andrew Kirkman
  • Composer: Guillaume Dufay
  • Audio CD (31 Mar 2008)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Hyperion
  • ASIN: B0013LRKN0
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 174,107 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Introit
2. Kyrie
3. Gloria
4. Alleluia
5. Credo
6. Offertory
7. Sanctus
8. Agnus Dei
9. Communio
10. Rite majorem Jacobum canamus/Arcibus summis miseri reclusi - Guillaume Dufay
11. Balsamus et munda cera - Guillaume Dufay
12. Gloria - Guillaume Dufay
13. Credo - Guillaume Dufay
14. Apostolo glorioso - Guillaume Dufay

Product Description

Messe pour St Jean-le-Majeur & autres œuvres / The Binchois Consort - Andrew Kirkman, direction

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb 24 May 2012
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Guillaume Dufay's "Missa Sancti Jacobi" is one of his earlier compositions, dating from the late 1420's. It was possibly composed to be performed on an occasion of pilgrims leaving for the shrine of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela. The mass includes polyphonic Propers as well as the Ordinaries, and here on the disc the programme includes two motets, one possibly associated with the mass and the other which can be accurately dated as being first performed on 7 April 1431, plus a Gloria/Credo pair which quote musical phrases from irreverent popular French & Italian songs, and finally a motet composed for the rededication in 1426 of a church in Patras.

Being some of the younger Dufay's pieces, they are perhaps not so polished as some of his more famous later pieces, such as the Missa "Se La Face Ay Pale", Missa "L'Homme Armé" and motets such as "Nuper rosarum flores". The performance however, as is usually the case with the Binchois Ensemble under their director Andrew Kirkman, is superb. The ensemble, doubling up voice parts as AATTx2, have such an excellent tuning with each other which it seems few others can match. An outstanding disc by one of the finest exponents of Dufay's music.

The booklet includes some good notes by Kirkman, along with sung texts and translations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most impressive 9 Jun 2012
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I basically agree with Mr Wisty on this and don't have a great deal to add to his review.

Focusing on the mass (by far the largest piece) the performance seems to get right to the heart of the magnificent music: In particular, its various moods (eg exalted, reflective) are very well individuated. For me the performance also had a certain spiritual feel. I agree that the performance is technically very accomplished-I was particularly struck by how well the unpredictable variations in rhythm were brought out-these variations contribute a lot to the excitement of some passages.

I have another performance by Capella Pratensis, which, to my ears, does not achieve much of the above. The performance appears in a box called "The Flemish Polyphony".

This could be a good starter disc for Dufay's sacred music as there are some shorter pieces too, all of which are very enjoyable. However-please note-there is no instrumental participation.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dufay would be proud 2 Feb 2006
By Eddie Konczal - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Guillaume Dufay (c. 1397-1474) was arguably the dominant composer of the 15th century, and a crucial figure in music history. Dufay successfully blended the two major musical developments of the early 15th century - the imperfect consonances (3rds and 6ths) popularized by English composers such as Dunstable, and the rhythmic advances of Continental composers such as Ciconia - thus forging a new style that would become the foundation of Renaissance music. Dufay mastered both sacred and secular forms, and directly influenced younger contemporaries such as Ockeghem and Busnoys. Many musicologists credit later composers, such as Josquin or Obrecht, with developing the "learned style" of pervasive imitation that dominated Renaissance polyphony. However, the elements of the learned style had their genesis - however elementary - in the music of Dufay.

"The Mass for St. James the Greater" is an early Dufay plenary Mass (c. 1427), which includes not only the movements of the Mass Ordinary (Gloria, Kyrie, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei) but also the Proper movements (Introit, Alleluia, Offertory and Communio). Scholars have identified the Communio as the first documented use of "fauxbourdon" - a quasi-improvisatory technique that supported the highest voice with parallel first inversion chords, thereby emulating the "sweet sound" of the English composers.

The Binchois Consort, led by Andrew Kirkman, performs not only the entire Mass for St. James the Greater, but associated motets ("Rite majorem Jacobum" and "Apostolo Glorioso") from approximately the same period. The Mass is not top-shelf Dufay, but instead captures the composer in a formative, developmental phase. Dufay would go on to master the Cyclic Mass with works such as "Missa Se la face ay pale" and "Missa L'homme arme," and thereby establish the standards to which composers of 15th century sacred music aspired. The motets showcase Dufay's skill with shorter sacred forms, a genre that Dufay would master with "Nuper rosarum flores" (1436).

Some may criticize the composition of the Binchois Consort (eight male adults), but Dufay did not always have large vocal ensembles to compose for, especially early in his career. Male sopranos can be an acquired taste, but the Binchois Consort delivers tasteful, impeccable performances. The acoustics are astounding and the production values are pristine. Dufay would be proud that his early works have received such sensitive handling, nearly six centuries after their composition.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great! 11 Oct 2000
By Micky - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This mass is not popular. However, the mixture of medieval and Renaissance styles is really beautiful. This is certainly a Dufay's music: deep, warm, mesmeric, and confortable. Kirkman's performance is also unbelievable. This is one of the best recordings of Dufay's.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The More Things Change ... 2 Feb 2010
By Giordano Bruno - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
It's interesting how hard it is to think about evolution without lapsing into a discourse of Progress - of 'Entwicklung', development, improvement. But the bottom line of evolution is contingent and constant change, not improvement. You, dear reader, are no more highly evolved than a green sea turtle, nor any more complex than an army ant; you simply value your own complexity disproportionately.

The history of music also suffers from a discourse of 'development'. Perceptive listeners can still be trapped in the notion that the imitative counterpoint of Josquin is more 'advanced' than the seldom-imitative polytextual polyphony of Dufay. Quatsch! Nobody has ever written more 'advanced' music than Dufay... not Josquin, not Bach, not Beethoven, not Wagner, not even Brian Wilson. You have only your two ears, you know, through which all the ambient sound funnels to your brain, and 'what you hear is what you hear.'

Music in Europe did CHANGE rather dramatically in the short span of time between Guillaume Dufay (1400-1474) and Josquin Desprez (1455-1521). The most easily quantifiable change was the shift in 'prolations', from preponderantly "perfect" (triple) tempi to "imperfect" (duple) tempi. You can hear that change by comparing any performance you have of Dufay to any of Josquin's disciples like Mouton or Willaert. That change was symptomatic of a change in the most basic mode of "hearing" music, which I can describe as a change from Time to Space. The aesthetic core of Dufay's music is the passage of Time; one hears it 'horizontally' - in the flow of Time captured as immediate sensual perceptions. The consummate craft of Dufay's music is its rhythmic inventiveness. By comparison, Josquin's music is 'all about' melody, which is a sort of derived experience based on Memory. No memory, no melody! Thus Josquin's music is less about Time and more about Space, or Spaces ... music conceived architecturally and heard as much vertically as horizontally. (I hope that makes sense; if it doesn't, blame it on too many cups of espresso.)

And what about this recording of Dufay's "Mass for Saint James the Greater' by the eight male singers of the Binchois Consort? Put simply, we ought to beatify Saint Andrew Kirkman the Greatest. Contrary to one utterly foolish earlier review, such a performance by a small choir of men, including falsettists, was absolutely the norm in Dufay's era; in fact, any other kind of performance would defy all historical scholarship and, to my ears, defile the music. How could a large choir in a reverberant space make any acoustic sense of such music? But beyond authenticity, there's the artistry of the singers to be reckoned with, and these guys of the Binchois Consort are astonishingly good, each 'pair' of them in precise accord and all eight of them in Swiss-watch tight ensemble, both of tuning and of rhythmic expression. The overlapping prolations of this mass -- polyrhythms, you could call them -- are the flowers of Burgundian musical craft, and the Binchois boys nail them all like perfect-score gymnasts.

Besides the Mass for St James, this performance includes three wonderful polyphonic antiphons by Dufay, plus two mass movements (Gloria & Credo) in a different vein, full of Italian song snatches and popular musical touches that suggest Dufay's awareness of the "laudesi", the singers of the mostly bourgeois confraternities of Italy, where the Burgundian Dufay spent time. The Credo is one of the most 'amusing' pieces of liturgical polyphony you'll ever hear.

I can hardly believe that other reviewers have treated this CD so shabbily. It's the most polished and enjoyable performance of Dufay yet offered to the modern public.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By George Peabody - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
The compositions on this disc by Guillaume Dufay (c1400-1474) chronologically encompass his early years from the GLORIA/CREDO pair (1426), with the MUSIC FOR ST JAMES (1427) reaching to the MOTET BALSAMUS ET MUSIC CERA (1431). These years often found Dufay in Northern Italy.

The listener may need repeated hearings of this disc before getting a grasp on Dufay's flowing, constantly busy contrapuntal texture. However, these pieces are outstanding examples of the early Renaissance and worth the listening time and effort. Moreover the Binchois Consort presents an excellent rendition of this music: accurate intonation, both in pitch and unanimity of vowel sounds makes for a harmonic-enriched vibrancy. In addition, the refined balancing of the four parts (AATT) brings out Dufay's innovative vocal writing to the mix. The tempos are not rushed, making space for expressive singing as the text demands.

The Binchois Consort numbers eight very skilled singers who perform with a richness and sonority that showcases the sheer technical bravura of a composer still at the start of his career. The accompanying information is clear and printed in English, German and French; text included. (I have long enjoyed a 1986 HILLIARD ENSEMBLE recording of Dufay's "Missa L'homme arme" still available on the marketplace).
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Apple Can Spoil the Whole 4 Feb 2010
By Doug - Haydn Fan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Giordano Bruno, who writes so very well about the music of the Renaissance, recently in another review makes very good comments about single voices versus whole choirs, and how beauty in singing can be obscured. I must add to the several telling observations he makes - It takes only one bad voice to hurt a performance. This goes double when the music is so nakedly exposed as are the lines of Dufay. Just as a rope is only as strong as its weakest strand, so it is with music of this period, where, as Giordano quite frequently rightly reminds everyone, single voices, rather than bunched choirs, work best in presenting Dufay's marvelous music.

And that is what, at least to my ear, is sometimes on display here. Almost all of the singing on this recording is quite superb - just wonderful. But for me, and obviously one other reviewer, whose general lack of understanding is at least partially balanced by his sense that something in the higher range sounded wrong, there's a problem. And however all wet the other negative reviewer is on most of what he says, there are dififculties in the alto parts, they exist and appear too often.

Now I'm NOWHERE near as picky as Giordano - whose hearing and taste are first rate - so this confuses me. If I can hear it, so I should think can anyone. Compromised singing is what it is in ANY age.

And these alto issues stand out for me when other voices - including some of the other altos - reveal wonderful intonation and marvelous tone; it's not like no one in the group understands how to sing. Having essayed alto myself, I know it's challenging - but alto singing has come a long, long way these last forty years. Myabe four good altos remains the Renaissance equivalent of finding a full complement of great singers for Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots.

Anyway, all this complaining should NOT be taken as a push for replacing men with sopranos - but whenever I hear these problems I can at least realize the thinking behind such historically dubious practices.

Finally, all the overwhelming praise accorded this recording in all quarters worries me - have I lost my hearing? Must be the case! A lifetime spent in careful listening to singers and following scores now disappears into the void!
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