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Tallis Scholars

'The rock stars of Renaissance vocal music' - The New York Times

On 2 November 2018 Gimell Records will release a new recording by The Tallis Scholars of Josquin's Missa Gaudeamus and Missa L'ami Baudichon. This is the seventh of nine albums in The Tallis Scholars' project to record all of Josquin's masses before the composer's 500th Anniversary in 2021.

'What attracts me most about these two Masses is how the same composer could produce such different and yet compelling sound worlds: the one intensely worked, the other joyful, bright, easy-going. It might be wondered if the same man could write so diversely - I would say genius on this scale knows no rules.' - Peter Phillips

Josquin is known as the most adventurous composer of his time - the one who could turn his hand to any challenge. This restless, searching intellect is on display in every one of his Mass settings, yet as Peter Phillips says, few offer as great a contrast as Missa Gaudeamus and Missa L'ami Baudichon.

Missa Gaudeamus represents Renaissance artistry at its most intense. Largely based on the first six notes of a substantial chant melody, it deploys mathematics in a number of clever, but rewardingly audible ways. Written for the Feast of All Saints, this is high art.

By contrast, Missa L'ami Baudichon represents Renaissance artistry at its most skittish. Based on just three notes from a popular secular song, which sound to an English ear distractingly like the opening of Three Blind Mice, it makes few demands on the listener outside enjoying a luminous C major sonority. This comes close to low art - a vulgar reference to female genitals comes twice in the French-language text of the very secular folksong that Josquin used as his melodic model and name for the Mass. The vulgarity of the original song makes it an unusual starting point for a sacred work, yet despite this, the Mass survives in one of the Vatican choirbooks, where presumably it was sung as part of the liturgy.

Peter Phillips comments: 'I chose to record all Josquin's masses partly because The Tallis Scholars have been associated with his music for their entire career, and partly because his masses make the best possible project. Nineteen masses over nine discs is manageable - where Palestrina's 107 masses is not - while their scoring sets them apart in Josquin's output. Nowhere else did he concentrate so specifically on four-part chamber-music-like writing, yet every Mass has its own individual sound world.

'I realised that in his masses Josquin had created a set of pieces of unique quality, designed to explore all the potential within the form, as Beethoven later did with the symphony. I wanted to gather them all together for the first time, so that the public can appreciate the scope of Josquin's genius.'

The album is available on CD, to download from iTunes in their 'Mastered for iTunes' format, and to download in a variety of high resolution formats from the Hyperion Records website. It is also available on Apple Music, Spotify and a selection of other streaming services.


Posted: 13 September 2018

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