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.