...Josquin's Missa Sine Nomine deserves to be heard far more often than it is. Likewise his 'mass in fugue.' In fact, this performance, recorded in 2008, is the only one availble. Fortunately it is perhaps the best the Scholars have ever sounded. The ensemble is perfect, the balance of voices is perfect, the interpretation is vigorous, the rhythms are crisp, I can actually understand the familiar Latin, and although they still sound like a 'choir', these masses are richly suited to their choral sound. And the music is extraordinary, even by the sublime standards of Franco-Flemish polyphony.
TS director Peter Phillips himself prepared the performing scores for this recording. Here's what he says about it: "This recording presents the only two Masses by Josquin which are entirely based on canons; a single melody stated in different voice parts at different times so that it overlaps with itself. To write this kind of music may sound academic to the modern mind: who is interested in the mathematical scaffolding which most people can't hear? But Josquin was interested in it - as were many composers from Bach to Brahms to Webern - and I knew that, like every composer of genius, he would relish the challenge."
Actually, I disagree with Master Phillips about the ability of "most people" to hear the canonic scaffolding of these masses. I'm not often accused of overestimating people, but in this case I think Josquin's canonic structures will be EASIER for a modern listener, accustomed to Bach, to hear immediately and to enjoy. Really, if you've never heard any of Josquin's masses before, these two might well be the best choice for your initiation.
There are sixteen surviving masses by Josquin des Pres (1440-1521), and all of them are summit masterpieces. It's as worthwhile to collect and hear all of them as to do so with the string quartets of Beethoven or the symphonies of Shostakovich. This seems a good a place to list all the verified Josquin masses, with what I consider the best available recording of each:
L'ami Baudichon CAPELLA ALAMIRE
L'Homme Armé super voces TALLIS SCHOLARS
L'Homme Armé sexti toni TALLIS SCHOLARS
Ave Maris Stella DUFAY ENSEMBLE
De Beata Virgine THEATRE OF VOICES
Pange Lingua ENSEMBLE CLEMENT JANEQUIN
Fortuna Desperata TALLIS SCHOLARS or CLERKS' GROUP
Malheur me Bat TALLIS SCHOLARS or CLERKS' GROUP
Mater Patris CHANTICLEER
Hercules Dux Ferrariae HILLIARD ENSENBLE
La Sol Fa Re Mi TALLIS SCHOLARS
Sine Nomine TALLIS SCHOLARS
Ad Fugam TALLIS SCHOLARS
Gaudeamus A SEI VOCI
Di Dadi MEDIEVAL ENSEMBLE OF LONDON
Faysant Regretz CLERKS' GROUP or MEDIEVAL ENSEMBLE OF LONDON