Ockeghem's Missa Prolationum continues to be one of the monuments of the period, and a personal favorite. An updated recording is therefore quite welcome, as is another recording of the motets, although they are rather well-known at this point.
The interpretation builds directly on this ensemble's previous Ockeghem recording, particularly as regards musica ficta, where their solutions were critical to making sense of the cuiusvis toni mass. Here the issues are a bit more isolated, but of course undertaken within an especially complex rhythmic framework. It's the rhythmic complexity that "creates" the prolation mass, so to speak, but of course this creates ficta-harmonic issues at some key points. The solutions here seem like an improvement over previous versions. The performers also rethink the text underlay, which seems fairly arbitrary in the original sources, to good results.
The Missa Prolationum is, in many ways, a rather well-known piece at this point, and this new recording does not make it sound totally different. Their adjustments are not that striking on first glance, but serve to create a more idiomatic & unproblematic interpretation overall. The result, of course, is excellent phrasing, so important for this music, and a strong sense of forward momentum, so characteristic of Ockeghem. Individual lines don't stand out as well as they might, but the performance is quite enjoyable.
To renaissance sacred listTodd M. McComb