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Dunstable - Sweet Harmony (Masses and Motets) CD

5.0 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Performer: John Dunstable, Tonus Peregrinus
  • Composer: John Dunstable
  • Audio CD (10 Oct. 2005)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B000B6N67M
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 48,858 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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By DAVID BRYSON TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 Feb. 2006
Format: Audio CD
Goodness me, how many superlative groups of ancient music specialists can there be? Here is yet another, predictably brought to us by Naxos. There are 8 singers directed by Anthony Pitts, and the group photograph also shows us Jeremy Summerly himself in a daft-looking hat as producer, and also, most properly, the engineer Geoff Miles whose work I would call absolutely outstanding.
England was not always 'the land without music'. In particular, it seems that a sudden and spectacular leap in musical development occurred precisely there in the early 15th century, and, if we are to believe the musical historian of the time Tinctoris (cited by Pitts in his liner-note), the main driving-force behind this revolution was John Dunstable, whose innovations were picked up promptly by his contemporary Dufay and thereafter by Europe in general. My own knowledge of this period is deplorably patchy, but it is quite clear that by the 12th century the ecclesiastical tradition of monodic plainsong, believed to date from the 8th century, had not changed much, even at the hands of the frumious Hildegard of Bingen. There was a parallel secular tradition, probably more than one, but if the music of the troubadours during this same period is anything to go by it had primitive instrumental accompaniment for the voices, but nothing by way of genuine 'harmony' much less polyphony or counterpoint.
Enter the English, Dunstable in the lead. Not a lot seems to be known about him except that he appears to have been associated with St Albans in Hertfordshire, where his name survives in the name of a town not far away, as does that of the author of Dunstable's epitaph and Abbot of St Albans Abbey John Wheathampstead.
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By Mart TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 5 Mar. 2008
Format: Audio CD
John Dunstable was an English composer of early polyphonic music during the Medieval and Renaissance era. Born around 1390, probably in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, he was one of the most famous composers in England and Northern Europe during his lifetime and is credited with influencing the development of the `Burgundian School' of composers whose ranks include great names such as Dufay and Binchois.

According to musical sources the correct spelling is `Dunstaple' with a `p', but there remains debate and uncertainty. More certain are his many travels around England and Northern Europe during his lifetime, and he is also thought to have owned properties in Cambridgshire, London and Normandy. His interests were not confined to music, for he had a reputation as a mathematician, astronomer and astrologer (of which some of his original writings have survived).

Like many other composers of the 15 century Renaissance period, few of Dunstable's original manuscripts remain, although of the ones that do, many copies have been found transcribed to German and Italian which further suggests his widespread musical influence throughout Europe. His accolades include that of the 15th century French poet Martin le Franc describing Dunstable as possessing `le contenance angloise' (the English countenance), a term which is assumed to describe the characteristically English harmonious or `sweet sounds' obtained from singing in thirds.
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By E. L. Wisty TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 6 Aug. 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
...in me writing a verbose review when it's already been said here? Dunstable (or Dunstaple) was arguably the most influential English composer ever, his harmonic structures admired and emulated by continentals firstly of the Burgundian school (Binchois, Dufay & Busnois) and subsequently of the Franco-Flemish school whose music spread all over Renaissance Europe.

Rather forgotten today by most, thankfully he is being rediscovered by more and more modern listeners, and this will surely be helped by such recent programmes as Howard Goodall's The Story of Music and David Starkey's Music and Monarchy which gave due prominence to Dunstable with recognition of his importance.

There are, at least as far as I know, three good discs knocking about devoted to Dunstable - the Orlando Consort's John Dunstaple: Musician to the Plantagenets, the Hilliard Ensemble's Dunstable - Motets and this one by Tonus Peregrinus which is probably the pick of what is a great bunch. Tonus Peregrinus have not made all that many recordings, but they cover what are in effect great landmarks in Western music history, which is exactly what Dunstable's work amounts to.
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