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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 11 February 2013
This wonderful cd has the fascinating Missa L'homme arme by Antoine Busnois (c. 1430-1492), as well as his Anima mea liquefacta est. I find the L'homme arme tune, and its use by so many composers to be utterly fascinating. Busnois may have been the first to use it in a Mass setting. Apparently the phrase "Anima me liquefacta est" means "my soul was melted", and comes from the Bible, so is a setting of that. The third work of Busnois on this cd is the Gaude celestic domina. Busnois, in his time, was hugely influential; and his works fall mainly between those of Dufay and Ockeghem.

The cd then offers the Missa Spiritus almus by Petrus de Domarto (fl. C. 1450), a Franco-Flemish composer. His two known Mass settings, of which this is one, were hugely influential, particularly on composers like Busnois. Finally, the Flos de spina by Jean Pullois (d. 1478), another Franco-Flemish composer, who carried the Northern polyphonic style to Italy. The motet on this cd was written for the Christmas season.

The Binchois Consort, under Andrew Kirkman, offer a wonderful rendition of all these beautiful pieces. The fifteenth century French, and Franco-Flemish composers were really innovative in their use of polyphony and melody, and those wonderful tones carry through beautifully in this recording, from 2001. There is a great little booklet with the cd, which talks about the music, as well as offering the words and translations, always nice to have. Highly recommended.
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on 8 October 2011
I agree completely with the earlier review! Busnois has not been served very well by earlier recordings, but the excellent Binchois Consort have rectified this...and how! This is arguably the earliest of the many 'L'Homme Arme' masses to be composed (or perhaps it was Ockeghem's), which use this popular song in the cantus firmus. One theory is that the song is used in this mass to celebrate the accession to power of the famous Burgundian duke, and enthusiastic warrior, Charles the Bold...which dates it to around 1467. This music is muscular, powerful and instantly makes a profound impression (like Charles himself, no doubt!), which doesn't fade as the work progresses. No wonder it made such an impact on Busnois' contemporaries! I feel compelled to listen more of Busnois' music sung by these exceptional musicians. The other works on this disc are no less impressive, if less dramatic.
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Antoine Busnois' Missa "L'Homme Armé" (© All Renaissance Composers), composed in the 1460's was without doubt one of the most admired works of its time. It survives in no less than seven manuscripts - an astonishing number for a piece of that era - and even Dufay, Faugues and Obrecht amongst others "lifted" aspects of its construction for their own masses of the same name. Whether or not Busnois actually wrote the earliest Missa "L'Homme Armé" (and indeed whether Busnois originally wrote the chanson "L'Homme Armé") is a matter of debate, but it was certainly the most influential. The contemporary theorist Tinctoris lumped Busnois in with his not particularly large list of greatest composers, and dedicated one of his treatises jointly to Busnois and Ockeghem.

Busnois himself was, it seems, in his turn influenced by the lesser known - but again one praised by Tinctoris - figure of Petrus de Domarto, who penned the other mass on this disc, Missa "Spiritus almus", employing a cantus firmus from a melisma on the words "spiritus almus" in the Marian responsory "Stirps Jesse", which latter piece incidentally forms the cantus firmus for Busnois' motet "Anima mea liquefacta est" here preceding the mass on this recording.

The programme is completed with another Busnois motet "Gaude celestis domina", and a hugely admired motet, given the manuscript circulation, "Flos de spina" by Jean Pullois who spent time at the Church of Our Lady in Antwerp as did Domarto, and where Pullois was friends with Ockeghem.

In the hands of the Binchois Consort these compositions are brought to life. The vocalists have a fine balance and blend, and even though performing with two voices per part (ATTBx2) they are in possession of a real sharp-edged clarity of delivery you don't often find in many cases. The booklet notes by the ensemble's director Andrew Kirkman are excellent, and full Latin sung texts with translations are provided.
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on 9 January 2016
After listening to this CD I wondered how composers of such astonishing music could be so little known and neglected. Certainly fifteenth century religious music is not mainstream but the beauty and power of these works is simply awesome. The Busnois mass "L'homme Armé" was greatly admired by his contemporaries. Beautiful harmony and sonority, constant changes of tempo and "mood" - more reflective passages scored down for duos or trios contrast with sections where all the voices come together in an outpouring of musical fireworks.
You would have to "trawl the web" a long time to find the sparse information available on Petrus de Domarto. Nevertheless his "Missa Spritus almus" presents the same beauty of harmony and sonority as the Busnois mass albeit at a much more leasurly pace the polyphony undulating sedately especially in the lower voices.
The CD also contains two motets by Busnois and finishes with the sublime "Flos de Spina" by the Franco-Flemish composer Jean Pullois a colleague of Ockeghem.
The notes are both informative and enthusiastic about the works performed un this CD. This enthusiasm shines through in the singing which is clear and passionate. The Binchois Consort seem perfect for this early Renaissance repertoire.
This CD is an absolute gem.
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on 20 March 2009
Busnois's music is astonishingly lovely - my reaction on hearing this piece was; "where has Busnois being hiding - why is his light under a bushel!" In particular, his "Anima mea liqueafact est" liquifies the heart and soul! The music of Domarto and Pullois is also lovely but Busnois is the star here and, of course, the Binchois consort!
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on 23 January 2015
Vocal fireworks. The Busnois mass is stunning. I already have a version of it by Pro Cantione Antiqua, but this version is better by a whisker...or a decible. Magnificent voices in a nice ambience.
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on 15 April 2015
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