This first recording by the Clerks' Group (nowadays known simply as The Clerks) presents Ockeghem's middle period Missa "Ecce Ancilla" preceded by his motet "Intemerata Dei mater" and Marian antiphon "Ave maria".
Also featured here are Jacob Obrecht's motet "Salve Regina", and Josquin Desprez's lament on Ockeghem's death, the famed "Déploration sur la mort de Johannes Ockeghem", also known from its first line as "Nymphes de bois".
The technical quality of the Clerks is right there from the outset, but perhaps does not possess the same level of spirit, feeling and fervour in the performances as on the subsequent Gaudeamus label releases, several of which unfortunately seem to be unavailable at the time of writing this. (Those unavailable Gaudeamus discs in fact include a re-release of this first disc on the Proud Sound label.)
The accompanying booklet is somewhat amateurish in presentation, but includes background notes plus Latin texts and translations
I find it necessary to award five stars to this performance in order to counter-balance the non-review that listed the tracks only...but then awarded three stars! Go figure, as our American cousins would say. My views are similar to Wisty's. This is, evidently, the first recording by The Clerks' Group, and it does appear to be slightly...and I emphasise slightly...more reserved than their later efforts. This having been said, the Missa Ecce Ancilla is perhaps a more introverted work than say, Ockeghem's L'Homme Arme mass. None of this detracts from the beauty of the performances, and the considerable poise of the singers, even in this early stage of their career. One more issue, the ASV version of this is evidently the same performances reissued. Why are the copies of this version selling for upwards of £100? I suppose people have a thing for completion of their sets...or maybe they will pay through the nose for those nice azure-blue disc spines?