Performers: Brigitte Peyré (soprano), Béatrice Mayo-Felip (soprano), Pascal Bertin (contertenor), Michel Géraud (countertenor), Hugues Primard (tenor), Jean-François Chiama (tenor), Arnaud Marzorati (bass), Jean-Louis Paya (bass)
Playing time: 69'
Recording date: September 1997 (Abbaye de Champeaux)
Thierry Pécou (b.1965) is clearly the impetus for the present performance, featuring his music based both on Dufay's famous mass and the underlying song (the armed man). The presentation is very gritty, with real modern military pictures on the cover and in the large booklet, all placed in a cardboard box.
More extensive remarks follow....
The entire production is scripted by Pécou, with the Interventions written to be inserted at the appropriate points in Dufay's Mass, and the entire thing to be followed by his independent L'Homme Armé piece. The choral writing itself is conventional for the 1980s or 90s in French postmodern style. By that I do not mean to diminish it, as I find the entire production stimulating, but to point out to the reader what "sound" to expect. It is not the American medieval-derivative style, but more distanced from its sources, to the level of interval patterns alone. It is made of overlapping textures and methods, conditioned by the Greek rhythms (we see Xenakis there) and scored for choir in ever-changing disposition. For a parallel, I mention a composer of the previous generation, Emmanuel Nunes (b.1941), whose work I enjoy. Pécou's work can be seen clearly as a continuation of the ideas in something like Nunes' Quodlibet cycle, and basically representative of progressive French music in the 1990s.
The liner notes are quite extensive (one might say interminable), written by a variety of authors. They make some interesting points, always in the most wretched English translation imaginable, but repeat too often what to someone involved with the intersection of medieval & contemporary music is very obvious. I think it is safe to say that any reader for whom the preceding description is intriguing will find the music worth hearing, but leave the remarks for when you are bored.
I am serious about the quality of the Dufay performance taken on its own. I think this is a production which will be mentioned years hence.
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