lunes, 11 de febrero de 2013

The Choir Project al día [11-II-2013]

Pierre Moulu [c.1484-c.1550]: Missa Missvs est Gabriel angelvs a 4.
The Brabant Ensemble - Stephen Rice.
Not everything is Josquin.

   In words by Stephen Rice:
"The surviving documentary evidence of Pierre Moulu’s life amounts to very little: documents in the Vatican identify a Petrus Moulu, a cleric of the diocese of Meaux between the years 1505 (when he stated that he was in his twenty-first year) and 1513, who applied for permission for various privileges in that diocese. Whether this man can be identified with the composer of five Mass settings, approximately twenty motets and ten chansons seeming to date from the second and third decades of the sixteenth century, is not proven, but is the best assumption presently available. Moulu the composer thus joins the long lists of Renaissance musicians whose lives are all but entirely masked in shadow. Fortunately a number of his works found favour with his contemporaries to the extent that they appear in numerous early manuscripts and prints, and they have attracted the attention of music historians since the earliest days of the discipline in the late nineteenth century. Like much of the large repertory of sixteenth-century polyphony, however, his works have rarely been performed in modern times, and this is the first recording devoted to his music.

   Missa Missus est Gabriel angelus
perhaps represents Moulu’s finest achievement in terms of purely musical expression. Pierre de Ronsard in the introduction to his Livre de mellanges of 1560 described Moulu as a disciple of Josquin (he was numbered alongside eight others, Ronsard’s selection of names exhibiting a notable bias to musicians active in the region of Paris). If a connection between Moulu and Josquin—for which there is no documentary evidence—did exist, this Mass-setting based on a short motet by the older composer would seem to represent the closest approach between their respective styles. Josquin’s motet is characteristic of his four-voice writing in maintaining a sparse texture with the voices imitating strongly memorable phrases. The characteristic rising leap of a fifth at the beginning of the piece exemplifies this trait of Josquin: frequently the voices work in pairs, as at ‘nuntians ei verbum’. Appropriation of plainsong melodies is common in Josquin’s music, as is true of many Renaissance composers: in Missus est Gabriel this is most clearly seen at the words Ave Maria, where the famous chant is strikingly introduced in the bass, the other voices following at a distance of two breves, all on the same pitch. Finally the closing Alleluia is set to an evocative fauxbourdon texture—a succession of first inversion chords that frequently was associated with sweetness in early sixteenth-century music.

   Moulu’s parody adopts many of the standard techniques for deriving Masses from motets, notably retention of the most arresting moments from the model. For instance, four of the five movements open with the rising fifth motif from the beginning of the motet, the exception being the Credo, which is headed with a homophonic passage—however, the rising fifth is retained in the bass part underpinning the harmony. Similarly, the fauxbourdon texture from the motet returns at the end of the Kyrie and Sanctus movements, where its falling lines create an effectively ruminative close for these supplicatory texts. The section of Josquin’s piece that would have been most immediately recognizable to his and Moulu’s contemporaries is the quotation of the Ave Maria chant: this is retained by Moulu but its surprising introduction by the bassus is not: the most obvious statement of the chant is made by the tenor in the Hosanna section, the bass harmonizing it in long notes while the soprano and alto exchange a newly composed melody above.

   A final characteristic of Josquin that Moulu adopts and extends is strategic repetition. Josquin is known for repeating the same short motif several times in succession (a famous example occurs in the Kyrie of his Pange lingua Mass), and Moulu takes this to almost obsessive levels at times. In the Pleni of Missa Missus est Gabriel, which is for the two upper voices only, the same four-note motif occurs no fewer than five times in succession in the soprano (Track 5, from 1'45"), and at the end of this section (2'25") the alto has four statements of the same melodic fragment. I interpret the musical gesture of the soprano statement as intensifying a drive towards the cadence that is frequently found in early Renaissance music; additionally the Pleni exemplifies the concept of varietas, much prized in theoretical treatises of the time, in that while one voice repeats, the other is continuously fashioning new counterpoints against it, working the melodic material to its utmost. The Mass-setting as a whole exhibits an austere beauty that recalls its distinguished model without slavishly aping it."

   I think the shadow of Josquin is long. Sheltered it was emerging interest in Franco-Flemish polyphony and in other composers at that time considered as minor.
In this way began to perform the music of Nicolas Gombert, Jacob Clemens non Papa, Orlandus Lassus, Or Pierre de Manchicourt, for example.
Over the years, interest in the five generations of Franco-Flemish composers has not stopped growing, so that now almost known more than a hundred authors of this períod, some of which are performed and recorded with some assiduity.

   Pierre Moulu is a perfect example of these composers almost unknown. In fact, this is the first and only album devoted entirely to this composer.

   This album is really wonderful, full of musical and musicological interest.
The Moulu's music is really wonderful, simply amazing.
This mass is absolutely fantastic, full of finesse, elegance, tenderness and great expressiveness.
I like a lot this performance, full of "Bristish sound". The queality of these voices and this intelligence when singing this music are fabulous.
A really wonderful album, indispensable for fanatics of Renaissance polyphony.


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