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Jacob Obrecht: Missa de Sancto Donatiano (CD+DVD)

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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Improvisation On Gefft Den Armen Gefangen
  2. Statuit Ei Dominus Plainchant
  3. Kyrie Missa De Sancto Donatiano
  4. Gloria Missa De Sancto Donatiano
  5. Domine, Prevenisti Eum Plainchant
  6. Iuravit Dominus Plainchant
  7. Credo Missa De Sancto Donatiano
  8. Veritas Mea Plainchant
  9. Improvisation On O Beate Pater Organ
  10. Sanctus Missa De Sancto Donatiano
  11. Improvisation On Gefft Den Armen Gefangen (2) Organ
  12. Agnus Dei Missa De Sancto Donatiano
  13. Beatus Servus Plainchant
  14. Improvisation On O Sanctissime Pater Organ
  15. O Beate Pater Donatiane Suffrage Antiphon for Votive Use
  16. O Sanctissime Presul 8th Responsory of Matins for the Feast of St Donatian
  17. O Clavis David Magnificat Antiphon for Vespers On December 20
  18. Confessor Domini 1st Responsory of Matins for the Feast of St Donation
  19. Gefft Den Armen Gefangen Flemish Song

Disc: 2

  1. Bonus DVD

Product Description

A contemporary of Josquin des Prez, the Dutch composer Jacob Obrecht's Missa de Sancto Donatiano was written at the end of the 15th century. It is sung by the critically-acclaimed vocal group, Cappella Pratensis. Along with the CD this release also includes a DVD of a performance of the Mass.

Jacob Obrecht was a Dutch composer known mainly for his substantial output of Mass settings in the late 15th century, as well as for his motets and songs. The Missa de Sancto Donatiano, a commemorative piece commissioned by the wife of a renowned fur merchant, was first sung in the St. Jacobskerk in Bruges in October 1487.

Founded in 1987, the Dutch-based vocal ensemble Cappella Pratensis, champions the music of Josquin des Prez and the polyphonists of the 15th and 16th centuries. The ensemble has made a series of CD recordings that have met with critical acclaim and distinctions from the press (including the Diapason d'Or and the Prix Choc). Its artistic director is Stratton Bull.

The bonus DVD contains a filmed re-enactment of the mass plus an extensive documentary featuring Prof. Jennifer Boxam (Professor of Music Williams College, Massachusetts USA) and Stratton Bull made on location in Bruges.

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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars 10 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good place to start for those who wish to understand the context of Renaissance Sacred Polyphony 9 Jan. 2010
By Dracontius - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This recording by Capella Pratensis, with its accompanying DVD can be warmly recommended.

The Missa De Sancto Donatiano as performed here manages to bring out not only the structural complexity of the work, but also its sheer sensuous beauty, not to mention the mood of gentle joy that pervades it, as it does many of Obrecht's works. Although a few might prefer the faster paced, harder edged and more manneristic rendition of ANS Chorus under Janos Bali, recorded on Hungaraton, this is the better performance of the work for most listeners.

The DVD is an added bonus, and pays due attention to the multiple layers of meaning of the work and the musical materials out of which it is made. Since other reviewers have said enough about the video, I will confine myself to noting a couple imprecisions in the documentary part of the DVD. Catholic theology did not then (and now does not now) countenance the "worship" of saints in the usual English sense of the term, as the interlocutors imply at one point. Unless that, that is, in the sense that even in Protestant England people used to refer to judges as "Your Worship!" Also, it is not precisely true that the elevation is the point at which, according to Catholic theology, the bread in the Mass becomes the Body of Christ. That happens at the "Words of Institution" immediately before.

Overall, a lovely CD and a useful DVD!
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fifty Stars! Superb Singing, Superb Learning! 5 Jan. 2010
By Gio - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Don't take time to read this review! Buy this performance now! The earlier recordings of Cappella Pratensis have vanished from the market leaving scarcely a trace, despite the fact that they were all first rate. Don't take a chance on missing this one! It's my first "must buy" selection of 2010, and quite possibly the finest recording of a polyphonic mass I've ever heard.

Cappella Pratensis, under its new conductor Stratton Bull, has blessed us with a CD/DVD combo of amazing quality. Let's start with the DVD. It includes a filmed 'recreation' of the premiere 'performance' of Jacob Obrecht's Missa de Sancto Donatiano, as sung in the Donass Chapel of the Sint Jacobskerk in Bruges on an evening in October 1487. That chapel is now a storage closet, so the recreation was staged in a similar chapel in the Sint Gilliskerk of Bruges. The eight choristers are clothed in simple white surplices and sing standing shoulder to shoulder from a single part-book in original 'white' notation placed on a massaive lectern. The three celebrants of the mass sing their liturgical 'propers' at an altar to the side of the choir. A woman in opulent Renaissance costume kneels at their feet; she is the widow of the wealthy merchant Donaas de Moor, who commissioned the composition of the mass and the singing of it in perpetuity. The actress playing this role looks remarkably like the patroness, whom we see in double, in the flesh and in the right-hand panel of the altarpiece of the Deposition, painted by the 'Master of the Saint Lucy Legend'. The kneeling middle-aged man portrayed on the left-hand panel is the dead merchant, Donaas de Moor, who obviously commissioned the painting. The celebrants are clad in priestly vestments and conduct the Mass in full solemnity. The camera roams from them to the choristers to the details of the altarpiece with appropriate cinematographic restraint. Watching the faces of the eight choristers becomes a marvelous source of insight into the structure of the music as well as a potent spiritual experience of the religious sensibilities that underlay that music. You can literally 'see' the cantus firmus on the lips of the tenors. You can 'watch' the texture of polyphony as the four parts alternate with duets and trios, sometimes two on a part, sometimes only one. If you haven't learned yet how to hear polyphony polyphonically, this DVD will be the most valuable 'learning tool' you'll ever find.

But that's not all! The DVD has an extended 'documentary' presentation, a conversation between Prof. Jennifer Bloxam, a musicologist at Williams College in Massachusetts and Stratton Bull, the artistic director of Cappella Pratensis. You'll hear the history of the composition, something about the composer's life, some simple analyses of the music and the liturgical context in which it existed. You'll see some of the actual parchment manuscripts used by Obrecht's contemporaries. You'll get a look at original notation. And, amusingly, you'll see the choristers in rehearsal, in scruffy jeans and sweaters instead of robes. Plus you'll get enticing views of the city of Bruges as it stands today. I guarantee that you'll understand and appreciate Renaissance polyphony at a new level after watching this DVD.

And now the CD, the 'concert' performance of Obrecht's mass. If the singing were not as superb as the cinematography, one would groan in anguish. But it is! The choir of eight men are flawless in rhythm and tuning throughout. Singing as they do, from original notation, they shape their linear rhetoric with profound emotive independence. Their balance and ensemble is brilliant. Obrecht's music is staggeringly complex and multi-faceted, with nearly subliminal allusions to plainchant, to the popular songs of late Medieval Flanders, and to Obrecht's musical idol, the composer Johannes Ocheghem. Add to that the complexity of polytextuality. The 'ordinaries' of the mass are sung simultaneously with longer texts from the 'propers', that is, the antiphons appropriate to the celebration of the Day of Saint Donatianus, all in Latin. But in the third Kyrie, a song in Dutch provides the cantus firmus, and later in the mass, two Latin texts are superimposed over the words of the Credo. Musical and linguistic intricacies are balanced in much the same way that Renaissance painters balanced portrayals of Sacred events with scenes of ordinary life.

It's nearly impossible for a modern-day listener to 'follow' the words of such polytextual polyphony, even if he/she comprehends Latin or has the text in print on the little pages of a CD booklet. Once again, that DVD will come to your rescue, since the texts are available in subtitles in English, French, German, and Dutch.

Jacob Obrecht (1457-1505) was as masterful a composer as any of any era, ranking with Ockeghem and Josquin des Prez, and this mass was one of his mightiest accomplishments. I'm humbly grateful just to have survived long enough to hear such a sublime performance of it, half a millennium later.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly beautiful Mass 15 Dec. 2009
By Patrick Curley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I purchased this CD/DVD at the suggestion of a recorded music salesman. He told me that it was quite a beautiful performance and value for money. It is much more than that. The performance of the piece is simply beautiful. The accompanying DVD is stunning. It features a reconstruction of the Requiem Mass in the original chapel in which it had it's first performance in October 1487. The choir is gathered around the great music book while off to the side the widow kneels as the priest and his assistants offer the Mass. This makes for compelling viewing for all who wish to see a Mass seeting in it's original form. The DVD also features a documentary piece in which a scholar takes us through the background for the writing of the Mass etc. This scholar's enthusiasm for the piece is infectious. She makes the comment that the restoration of the Mass setting to it's original liturgical framework offers us the opportunity to understand the spiritual nature of the Masses we hear. I cannot rate this CD/DVD highly enough. The cost is minimal compared to the glorious treasure that you will uncover once you hear/see the work of Obrecht.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars missa de sancto donatiano 14 Jan. 2012
By dante - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I agree with the reviewer who was disappointed with the dvd component of the package. The cd is 5 star perfect. The dvd is 1 star, therefore overall 3 stars. The contents of the dvd is superb, but the performance of the mass is severely flawed because at high frequency points, the voices shatter, just like an old record would with a worn stylus did years ago. Instead of being transported by this heavenly music, I find myself grimacing and holding on to the arm rest of my chair. I loved hearing this music on cd by this outstanding group, and was lucky enough to hear the same mass performed live by Cappella Pratensis at the Cloisters in NYC. Thank God for the cd, but brace yourself for the dvd.
P.S. Is it possible that only one other reviewer noticed this glaring defect?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent cd, good dvd 20 April 2012
By D. Perrine - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This package includes two different performances of Obrecht's mass: one recorded at a church in Bolland, Belgium in 2006, the other filmed the following year at the church in Bruges where it was originally performed. As other reviewers have noted, the filmed version has a bit of distortion in the loud passages. This will be very annoying to some while others will hardly notice. However on the cd version, the sound is superb as are the music and the performance, and the dvd also contains an interesting documentary with Prof. Jennifer Bloxam providing historical and musical context. Ms. Bloxam has also created a website (obrechtmass.com) with additional historical information, an annotated score, etc. So even if you never watch the performance on the dvd, this is still very much worth having.
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