Design by Austin Boyer
Four Tenor Masses
Born around the year 1400 and trained as a choirboy at the Cathedral of Cambrai, the famed Dufay initially composed isorhythmic motets – in the austere sonority and hierarchically determined voice architecture of the style of the French Ars Nova. But in the wake of religious dignitaries at the Council of Constance in the process, the youth had heard the sound of the music of the Englishman John Dunstable, and later, among other things, as a member of papal chapels in Rome and Florence, Italian repertoire.
With his miraculous sense of melodic beauty and rhythmically flowing voices, Dufay was able to merge the various stylistic elements of European tradition at the highest level. Now, since 2003, the internationally award-winning vocal ensemble Cut Circle under the direction of its founder Jesse Rodin has recorded the four four-part Cantus firmus masses of Dufay. Music of breathtaking craftsmanship. So distant in time and yet so close.
INTEGRITY OF THE INDIVIDUAL PART
Dufay, of which a multitude of sacred individual movements and secular works are handed down in addition to the great cycles of measurement, a variety of formative moments are attributed to the sentence structure and the mensural notation. He is at the center of a musical paradigm shift in European art music, which has allowed masters such as Ockeghem, Josquin and many others – including Orlando di Lasso – to develop and establish a new harmonious sensation that many still consider God-given. For the time being, however, the linear integrity of the individual voice and its role in the complex typesetting fabric were the focus.
NOT FROM THIS WORLD
Without falling into any mannerisms, the fantastic singers of the ensemble Cut Circle with a sense for balance and energetics light up even those passages, in which Dufay goes out in special artistic skills, in scholastic riddles – such as that in Agnus Dei III of the Missa “L’homme armé”, where as a reference to the execution of the cantus firmus is called: “the crab is fully ahead, but only half way back”. Although such puzzles provide a foundation for the grace of the musical breath, they do not hamper their flight. Quite as if she was not from this world, this music.
GUILLAUME DU FAY: FOUR TENOR MASSES
Missa Se la face ay pale
Missa L’homme arms
Missa Ecce ancilla Domini
Missa Ave regina celorum
Head: Jesse Rodin