Ockeghem Masses

Music of the Modes
Three Masses by Ockeghem
Capella Alamire - Peter Urquhart
Dorian Discovery 80152


    Missa Sine nomine à 5
  1. Kyrie
  2. Gloria
  3. Credo

  4. Missa Cuiusvis toni à 4
  5. Kyrie
  6. Gloria
  7. Credo
  8. Sanctus
  9. Agnus Dei

  10. Missa Fors seulement à 5
  11. Kyrie
  12. Gloria
  13. Credo

Performers: John Bradley, Kristin Dexter, Bradford Findell, Karin Hagaman, Edward Hinson, Charles Kamm, Steven Lovaas, Jeremy Marcus, Terence McKinney, Melinda McMahon, Peggy Monahan, Susanna Perry, Richard Spicer, Werner Sun, Michael Terranova, Michael Thaddeus, Charles Turner, Susan Ward, Liesbeth Wenzel

Playing time: 54'

Recording dates: May 1995 (Sine nomine & Fors seulement) & February 1996 (Cuiusvis toni)

Reviewed in:
Fanfare (Vol./#-p.): 23/1- (Sep/Oct 1999)

The present program consists of 3 of Ockeghem's most enigmatic masses. Of course, the 3-movements surviving for both the first & third present some questions, with the usual assumption that they were simply never completed. In fact, some speculation has the Missa Fors seulement as Ockeghem's last work, following in the wake of the great 5-voice Intemerata Dei Mater which also quotes the chanson Fors seulement. Certainly that work is one of Ockeghem's most stunning, and one can only marvel at the possible conclusions. The other 5-voice mass matches the use of the low bass voice pioneered in these works, but not the contrapuntal complexity.

Finally, the Missa Cuiusvis toni is one of Ockeghem's most discussed works. The piece is written without specifying mode, or more concretely, the first note. The title asks a question: which mode? Speculation is rampant as to whether there is a specific answer intended, or whether it is a catholicon (a piece to be performed in any mode). Answers in recent decades have emphatically given the Phrygian mode as the only appropriate choice, but neglecting the real way in which solemnization was done by the singers. Here Urquhart argues that there are actually 3 (out of 4) choices that are sensible, and has chosen one on ut rather far from the Phrygian.

Unfortunately, this recording is marred by a very low volume and muffled texture.

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Todd M. McComb