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La contenance angloise,
This review is from: Brussels 5557 - Plummer: Missa Sine Nomine · Frye: Missa Flos Regalis /The Clerks' Group · Wickham (Audio CD)
This is one of a trio of releases (with Dufay: Sacred Music from Bologna Q15 and Machaut: Motets & music from the Ivrea Codex) by The Clerks' Group based around material from a single manuscript, in this case one known prosaically as Brussels 5557.
This manuscript shows layers of composition; later additions include works by Busnois, Ockeghem, Dufay & Regis, but at the earlier core lie works of English composers who heavily influenced the Burgundian school. It is suggested that the manuscript began as a compilation for the marriage of Charles the Bold of Burgundy and Margaret of York in 1468, although the music dates from well before that - the 1450's or even earlier. That these earlier works survived at a time of great musical changes indicate that they must have been held in high regard.
The core of material here consists of two masses from the manuscript which at the time of their composition were highly innovative. Firstly is the four voice Missa Flos Regalis by Walter Frye. The Kyrie is missing, and has here been supplanted by a Sarum Chant troped Kyrie "Deus creator omnium", used on high feast days in England at the time. The second unnamed three voice mass (Missa sine nomine) by Plummer - we don't even know his first name - does however retain the Kyrie, a troped form common in England but which the continentals had no use for and usually did not copy into their manuscripts. The programme is completed with half a dozen English songs by John Bedyngham (a contemporary of Frye and Plummer - as all three are known to have been members of the London Guild of Parish Clerks they may well have known each other), Frye and Anonymous taken from other manuscripts.
The Clerks deliver this repertoire, which retains its innovative air and challenge even today, with great polish and even make it effortless. The accompanying booklet gives some notes, full sung text & translations.
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