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Mouton: Missa Tu Es Petrus (Hyperion: CDA67933)

Stephen Rice Audio CD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: £13.90 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Mouton: Missa Tu Es Petrus (Hyperion: CDA67933) + Mouton: Dictes Moy Toutes Pensees (The Tallis Scholars/ Peter Phillips) (Gimell: CDGIM047) + Richafort: Requiem (Hyperion: CDA67959)
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Product details

  • Conductor: Stephen Rice
  • Composer: Jean Mouton
  • Audio CD (28 May 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Hyperion
  • ASIN: B007RV4BDM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 156,788 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Nesciens mater
2. Ave Maria, gemma virginum
3. Exsultet coniubilando
4. Verbum bonum et suave
5. Missa Tu es Petrus
6. Bona vita, bona refection
7. Factum est silentium

Product Description

Review

In each of these rich and complex works, the lucidity of both the Brabant Ensemble singing and Rice's direction is hugely impressive. --IRR, Jun'12

Measured account for Brabant portrait of Willaert's teacher. --Gramophone,Aug'12

Mouton's music is freshingly airy and transparent. Highly recommended. Performance *****Recording ***** BBC MUSIC CHORAL & SONG CHOICE --BBC Music Magazine, Sept'12

Product Description

Nesciens mater - Ave Maria, gemma virginum - Exsultet coniubilando - Verbum bonum et suave - Missa Tu es Petrus - Bona vita, bona refectio - Factum est silentium / The Brabant Ensemble - Stephen Rice, direction

Customer Reviews

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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Sid Nuncius #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
I largely agree with Stephen Midgely's excellent review here. This is another lovely disc from the Brabant Ensemble who continue to rummage in the dusty forgotten corners of the Renaissance repertoire and keep unearthing gems there. Mouton's sublime motet Nesciens mater is deservedly well known and has been recorded a number of times. I'm not sure that I quite share Stephen's unalloyed enthusiasm for the rest of the music, though. It is very good, and the mass setting is a fine one, but I can't say that overall it moves me in quite the same way as, say, their discs of Phinot or Moulu do.

I wonder whether this is also to do with the performance. I fully expected to be writing another unequivocally enthusiastic review of the singing because the Brabants have been fantastic on every disc they've made. Here they still sing very beautifully and are as ever technically flawless, but (and this may just be me) I don't get quite the sense of engagement with the text or the wonderful spirituality which permeates their other discs. I have other versions of Nesciens mater and particularly the one on John Eliot Gardiner's wonderful Pilgrimage to Santiago disc Gardiner: Pilgrimage to Santiago has a limpid, transporting tenderness about it which isn't quite present here.

The notes, presentation and recorded sound are all, as always, excellent and I am sorry to have gone on and to have sounded critical - this is still a five star disc for me and one which I will play with pleasure for many years, I am sure. It's just that for me it's not quite in the five-star-plus category of most of the Brabants' previous discs, but please don't let me out you off - I'd still recommend it warmly.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Mouton mass 2 Jun 2012
By Stephen Midgley TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
First of all, this is fabulous music. Jean Mouton, one of a number of outstanding Franco-Flemish contemporaries of the incomparable Josquin, has been poorly served on disc until now - apart from the justifiably much-loved motet "Nesciens mater". That piece makes a fine start to the present disc - with one small reservation which I'll come back to at the end - and it's then followed by a programme of equally fine works which, as far as I know, have never previously been recorded.

The most impressive of these is undoubtedly the Missa Tu es Petrus. This 5-voice cantus firmus mass is an extremely beautiful work in both melody and texture. The clarity of its counterpoint and the radiant, soaring lines remind me a little of Clemens non Papa, one of my own favourites; and yet somehow the result is quite different, for Mouton has a very distinctive manner of his own. Here the voices weave graceful garlands around the chant theme as the composer, far from being in any way restricted by the cantus firmus format, allows himself remarkable freedom to develop his inspired melodic ideas. Moreover this adventurous music, with its starkly prominent lines, is most beautifully delivered by the Brabant Ensemble, singing two voices to a part. This mass is altogether a splendid and inspired work, and truly there is not a single dull moment as it receives a vigorous, committed and profoundly musical interpretation from Stephen Rice and his excellent singers.

There are plenty more treasures in this fascinating and well-organised programme. In addition to "Nesciens mater" there are three other fine 8-voice motets.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Egregious? 30 May 2012
By E. L. Wisty TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD
Stephen Rice in his accompanying notes concludes by describing Jean Mouton as being "in the best sense, egregious". This seems like a not unreasonable claim on the basis of the music presented here. Whilst the historical significance of Mouton has been acknowledged - he was in the service of Anne of Brittany and Pope Leo X, as well as being teacher to Adrian Willaert - his music is rarely performed, and the Brabant Ensemble here continue their mission of recording some of the less familiar Franco-Flemish composers of the 16th century.

The disc begins with Mouton's four eight-part motets, grandiose constructions indeed; the canonic pieces Nesciens Mater and Ave Maria Gemma Virginum; the triple-texted Exsultet Coniubilando with two cantus firmi; and Verbum Bonum Et Suave, one of the longest and most elaborate motets of the time. The title piece is Mouton's only five part Mass out of the fifteen masses he composed. The disc is completed with two four part motets - Factum Est Silentium on the fight of the archangel Michael with a dragon, and the curious Bona Vita Bona Refectio whose words call priests to what sounds like a rather agreeable meal.

But what of the egregiousness of the Brabant Ensemble themselves? I have often thought the sound quality of their recordings a little deficient, diffuse and lacking textual clarity, unsure as to whether this might be an acoustic problem, or else simply that the doubling up of voices lacks a certain tuning. Well here I think we have a clue. In the Missa Tu Es Petrus, the Benedictus is sung by three solo voices, in this case the three Ashby sisters who are regulars of the ensemble. I can only say: what an improvement, and no concomitant loss of dynamic. It only leads me to the feeling that the Brabants are not really as successful with the doubled voices as some ensembles. I would love to hear what Rice could do by slashing his personnel in half.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Mouton Mass 12 Jun 2012
By Stephen Midgley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
First of all, this is fabulous music. Jean Mouton, one of a number of outstanding Franco-Flemish contemporaries of the incomparable Josquin, has been poorly served on disc until now - apart from the justifiably much-loved motet "Nesciens mater". That piece makes a lovely start to the present disc, and it's then followed by a programme of equally fine works which, as far as I know, have never previously been recorded.

The most impressive of these is undoubtedly the Missa Tu es Petrus. This 5-voice cantus firmus mass is an extremely beautiful work in both melody and texture. The clarity of its counterpoint and the radiant, soaring lines remind me a little of Clemens non Papa, one of my own favourites; and yet somehow the result is quite different, for Mouton has a very distinctive manner of his own. Here the voices weave graceful garlands around the chant theme as the composer, far from being in any way restricted by the cantus firmus format, allows himself remarkable freedom to develop his inspired melodic ideas. Moreover this adventurous music, with its starkly prominent lines, is most beautifully delivered by the Brabant Ensemble, singing two voices to a part. This mass is altogether a splendid and inspired work, and truly there is not a single dull moment as it receives a vigorous, committed and profoundly musical interpretation from Stephen Rice and his excellent singers.

There are plenty more treasures in this fascinating and well-organised programme. In addition to "Nesciens mater" there are three other fine 8-voice motets. These include the majestic state motet "Exsultet coniubilando" - a good example of the tendency among many composers, both in renaissance times and after, to produce some of their noblest-sounding pieces when in grovel mode, that is to say when composing music in praise of some earthly potentate - in this case presumed to be Pope Leo X. Whatever the motivation, the result is lovely, as is the following sacred piece "Verbum bonum et suave".

After Mouton's beautiful Mass, the disc ends with two fascinating and characterful motets - both in four voices, but here with the usual 2VPP arrangement understandably supplemented by an extra voice to each part. I say 'understandably' in view of their subject matter; the first, "Bona vita, bona refectio" encourages listeners to eat, drink and have a jolly good time, with the help of a text conveniently providing the clerical audience with a righteous excuse for doing so. It's a joyful, enthusiastic piece, sung here with all the panache you could wish for. Finally, "Factum est silentium", despite this innocuous first line of text, is about the battle between St Michael and the dragon and the heavenly onlookers' reactions to it. It's a vivid and exciting piece, with splendid homophonic passages accentuating the drama; and once again it's superbly sung here.

This programme, then, is another brilliant contribution to the renaissance discography from the Brabant Ensemble. Stephen Rice and his ensemble have brought us a programme of rare and wonderful music and, what's more, in superbly crafted and committed performances. I really must stress again the extraordinary quality of the Tu es Petrus mass. In his excellent booklet notes Dr. Rice tells us that it's just one of Mouton's fifteen surviving mass settings. As far as I know only two of these, including the present one, have ever been available on disc; so, if the others are anywhere near as fine as this, will somebody please bring us some more?
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The English Choral Tradition ... 6 Aug 2012
By Giordano Bruno - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
... is deep, enduring, and splendid. It has been the "starting point" for much of the Early Music movement, as represented by artists like the Hilliard Ensemble, the Orlando Consort, Gothic Voices, the Tallis Scholars, The Clerks' Group, inter alia. The Brabant Ensemble, conducted by Stephen Rice, worthily extends that tradition. Just compare the roster of seventeen singers heard on this CD with the rosters of those aforementioned ensembles; the overlap is significant. It's no dishonor to either group to say that the Brabant Ensemble sounds very much like the Tallis Scholars. The same strengths and the same weaknesses! The chief strengths of both are their brightness, clarity, and discipline. The chief weaknesses result from their strengths; both ensembles are treble-heavy, too dominated by their sopranos (women singers in both groups), with the result that their "polyphony" often sounds a lot like homophony. They sing the chords rather than the lines; they sound vertical rather than linear. The other half of that distinctively English sound results from the generic wimpiness of their male voices, especially the basses. Is 'wimpiness' too offensive a descriptor? If so, I apologize. But since they always double the voices, the timbres are bound to be somewhat generic, and since they use extremely 'muscular' soprano voices, they inevitably overawe the tenors and basses. "Discipline" is both the strength and the weakness of the Tallis Scholars; TS director Peter Phillips often wields too heavy a baton, thus marshaling his singers by the bar-lines that were NOT present in Renaissance polyphony. Brabant conductor Stephen Rice is far more sensitive to the rhetorical independence of voices in polyphony; hence the Brabant Ensemble expresses more of the rhythmic vitality of "Franco-Flemish" composers like Jean Mouton.

This is a fine performance, embodying the best the British choral tradition, but I'm not as thrilled by it as I hoped to be. The eight-part motets, all sung two-on-a-part, are too top-heavy and perhaps a tad too solemn. Of course they were written for performance in churches, chiefly on liturgical occasions, but they needn't sound so "churchy". Jean Mouton (1459-1522) composed a long generation before Jean Calvin (1509-1564) decomposed. Think of the paintings of Mouton's era, of the clothes people were wearing in those paintings! Think of Mouton's most ardent patron, the luxuriously decadent Pope Leo X of the Medicis! These motets need to sound prideful and bold, not sanctimonious.

To my ears, the five-part Missa Tu es Petrus has more of the proper flare. It was an "old-fashioned" composition in its own time, closer in style to the works of Ockeghem (1425-1497) than to Mouton's own norms in his motets and other masses. The impact of the music depends on the rhythmic energy and complexity of the four "contra" lines hopping and scooting around the dependably stately "tenor". [Not the tenor singers! "Tenor" here is a structural concept, a long-note firm chant against which the other voices gyrate.] Stephen Rice and the Brabants handle this sort of free-swinging polyphony far more expressively than Phillips and the Tallis Scholars. Even so, however, I wish this performance had been done one-voice-per-part, with the bass borrowed from a Dutch or German ensemble.

Jean Mouton was and is often compared to Josquin Desprez (1455-1521). Indeed, some modern musicologists have suggested that Mouton should be perceived as Josquin's heir. In fact the two composers were exact contemporaries who died just a year apart. Much of Mouton's music seems quite conservative, if one takes Josquin's as the template for the "future" of polyphony. But Josquin was an internationalist, renowned throughout Europe, who spent much of his career in Italy, while Mouton was a rare "stay-at-home" among the great 'Fiamminghi' composers of his era. His early career was provincial, centered around Amiens. His big break came when he took a post in Grenoble, where he caught the attention of royalty, becoming the principal composer of the French court for the rest of his life. As far as we know, he traveled outside France only once, to Bologna in 1515, where he was honored by Leo X. It's likely that Mouton was commissioned by Leo X to prepare the glorious musical volume known now as the Medici Codex, as a wedding gift for the dissolute Lorenzo de' Medici of Urbino. That manuscript and the Parisian printings of Mouton's music for the French court have insured the survival of an exceptional body of his work, including fifteen complete masses.

If "greatness" is to be measured in terms of influence, oddly enough Mouton's greatest impact on musical history was through his student, Adrian Willaert (1490-1562), who became maestro di capella at St. Mark's in Venice. Willaert certainly built upon Mouton's eight-part motets in the evolution of the monumental double and triple choir works for which he became famous. Willaert, in turn, could arguably be ranked as one of the most influential composers of all time.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but perhaps not the sublime experience of previous discs 4 Aug 2012
By Sid Nuncius - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I largely agree with Stephen Midgely's excellent review here. This is another lovely disc from the Brabant Ensemble who continue to rummage in the dusty forgotten corners of the Renaissance repertoire and keep unearthing gems there. Mouton's sublime motet Nesciens mater is deservedly well known and has been recorded a number of times. I'm not sure that I quite share Stephen's unalloyed enthusiasm for the rest of the music, though. It is very good, and the mass setting is a fine one, but I can't say that overall it moves me in quite the same way as, say, their discs of Phinot or Moulu do.

I wonder whether this is also to do with the performance. I fully expected to be writing another unequivocally enthusiastic review of the singing because the Brabants have been fantastic on every disc they've made. Here they still sing very beautifully and are as ever technically flawless, but (and this may just be me) I don't get quite the sense of engagement with the text or the wonderful spirituality which permeates their other discs. I have other versions of Nesciens mater and particularly the one on John Eliot Gardiner's wonderful Pilgrimage to Santiago disc Gardiner: Pilgrimage to Santiago has a limpid, transporting tenderness about it which isn't quite present here.

The notes, presentation and recorded sound are all, as always, excellent and I am sorry to have gone on and to have sounded critical - this is still a five star disc for me and one which I will play with pleasure for many years, I am sure. It's just that for me it's not quite in the five-star-plus category of most of the Brabants' previous discs, but please don't let me out you off - I'd still recommend it warmly.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fit for Popes and Kings. 2 Dec 2012
By John - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Jean Mouton (1459-1522) in his early career worked for Queen Anne of Brittany, and then for King Francis 1st. This was the time when King Henry V111 visited France and met the French Monarch at the Field of the Cloth of Gold.
In the latter half of his career, he worked for Pope Leo X.This CD contains the Missa Tu Es Petrus, his best known composition apart from Nesciens Mater,and it is magnificently presented here. Parts of this Mass are required by the Composer to sing actually higher than written, and here those roles are sung by females. As well as the Mass, the other six pieces recorded here provide a complete CD of works by Mouton, a rare commodity.The Tallis Singers on a Gimell label is the only other.
Of note about this superb Vocal Ensemble is the lack of vibrato in their singing, but it is clear, rounded and never thin.
This has the highest recommendation.
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