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Power & Dunstaple: Masses and Motets (Veritas x2) CD

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Power & Dunstaple: Masses and Motets (Veritas x2)
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  • Ockeghem : Requiem, Missa "Mi-Mi", Missa Prolationum
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  • Dufay: Isorhythmic Motets (Huelgas Ensemble)
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Product details

  • Composer: John Dunstable, John Dunstaple, Leonel Power
  • Audio CD (2 April 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: CD
  • Label: EMI
  • ASIN: B0074DXR4M
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 63,908 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist - Artist (Sample)
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Top Customer Reviews

By E. L. Wisty TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 Jun. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Thankfully there is an increasing appreciation of the contribution of English composers to the development of Renaissance music. It's only been recently that scholarship has indicated that the cantus firmus technique and the addition of the fourth voice were in fact English rather than Continental inventions, as evidenced by anonymous masses from the 1440's (see Gothic Voices' Spirits Of England & France Vol.4 (Missa Caput) & Spirits Of England & France Vol.5 (Missa Veterem Hominem)).

The importance of earlier English composers who influenced their contemporaries at the Burgundian courts such as Guillaume Dufay and Gilles Binchois and who in their turn inspired the whole series of Franco-Flemish composers has however been well known - these continentals wrote in praise of "la contenance angloise" - but recordings of such works have been sparse relative to those of the European musicians.

This re-release of two Hilliard Ensemble discs recorded in the early 1980s is therefore particularly welcome. These recordings respectively present works by two of the greatest names in the early 15th century flowering of English music, Leonel Power and John Dunstable (or Dunstaple).

Power, active from at least the early 1420's to his death in 1445, may have been the first composer to write a complete mass cycle (four movements without a Kyrie as was often the case in early polyphonic masses), the Missa "Alma Redemptoris Mater" here on this recording, using the cantus firmus technique.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I'm going to give this five stars because the Dunstaple - or Dunstable, if you prefer - is one of the rare glimpses into the work of one of the most influential composers of his time. He transformed the way that composers thought about polyphony and put the English composers into the forefront (though he actually spent most of his time in France). I've had an earlier release for some years and I still play it regularly. The Hilliard Ensemble have long been a standard by which other early music choirs can be judged. Their versions of Lassus, Palestrina and Gombert are simply superb. With the Hilliards, each part is performed with a single voice, which gives great clarity and demands that every voice be perfect. Which they are. The Power is also significant, but sounds just a little thin - I would have given it four stars on its own.
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An inspiring and spiritually uplifting experience.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8f0be60c) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f0ed090) out of 5 stars a logical and welcome pairing 5 Nov. 2015
By Discophage - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
A logical and very welcome pairing. When EMI purchased Virgin Records in the early 1990s, they transferred the catalog of their early music & period performance series "EMI Reflexe" to the new label. The Power program was recorded first, in September 1980, and first reissued to CD on EMI Reflexe CDM 7 63064 2, part of single batch of mid-price releases from 1989, Masses & Motets. It was already individually reissued by Virgin on Power: Masses & Motets. The Dunstable program was recorded two years later, in September 1982, and came on CD in 1987, on CDC 7 49002 2, Dunstable Motets, with here again a later Virgin reissue, Dunstable: Motets.

But the two programs truly belong together, and not only because they were recorded in such a close succession. Dunstable and Power were close contemporaries – for the little that is know of their respective biography, Dunstable slightly younger than Power, and for sure, Power died eight years before Dunstable, 1445 vs 1453 - and although Dunstable is today a more recognized figure than his elder, they were both major influences in the shaping of a distinctive English choral music. Let me quote the thorough and erudite liner notes of conductor Paul Hillier from the original Dunstable CD:

With Power and Dunstable, “the English composers now began to dominate the ‘avant-garde’of European musical thought. Their music was sought after and survives today mostly in foreign sources – so effective was the destruction of ‘popish’ manuscripts under Hery VIII and later, the Commonwealth; Dunstable was recognized by Tinctoris as the ‘fount and origin’ of the English style – the ‘Contenance Angloise’ as Martin le Franc described it. This English countenance or style was, above all else, a sound: ‘a new practice of making frisk concordance… rendering their song joyous and notable” (le Franc). The sound resulted from the use of thirds and sixths in harmony and from a suppleness of rhythm and melody that was newly expressive, and which was taken over by Dufay and Binchois in forming the Burgundian style”. Power was also apparently the first composer to have written a Mass in cyclical form, with the same Cantus Firmus providing the basis of each movement, whereas until then the various movements forming the ordinary of the Mass were never meant as a unity.

As I said in my reviews of the individual CDs, this “may not send me as much into nirvana as the music of the later and last generation of English Catholic composers, those whose works are documented in the Eton College collection, like Cornysh, Fayrfax, Browne (see my review of Eton Choirbook Collection), but it certainly goes in that direction”. I’m not familiar enough with the music of both composers to say if there is a striking difference of style between both. As sung by the Hilliard Ensemble, there seems to be more rhythmic animation in Power, more uniform elegiac beauty in Dunstable. In any case the music is certainly enrapturing, and fans of late Medieval-early Renaissance English choral music should not miss it.

It is the original CDs from EMI Reflexe that I own, and one reason to favor them over this twofer reissue might be the liner notes: the original CDs contained thorough and erudite essays by conductor-singer Paul Hillier, visibly a scholar as much as a performer, plus texts and translations of the Mass and Motets; I don't know if all this has been reproduced in this Virgin twofer, and I somewhat doubt it: it would make for a very thick libretto. At the time of writing, the price of the original CDs is also still right, though not as attractive as the present twofer.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f0ed1e0) out of 5 stars Leonel Power is the real beginning of greatness in the ... 14 Jan. 2015
By Towelclerk - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Leonel Power is the real beginning of greatness in the aesthetics of British music. From the end of the 14th century till John Sheppard in the first quarter of the 16th, Power's masses and motets establish the gold standard of beauty in British music (and no, I haven't forgotten John Dunstaple; based purely on aesthetics, I submit Power trumps JD). The Hilliard Ensemble's rendering of this music is a marvelous compliment to its intrinsic caress of a listener's ears.
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