Isaac: Secular Music

Isaac: Ein frölich Wesen
Secular and textless music
Les Flamboyants - Michael Form
Christophorus 77360

Although Isaac has never been among the most interesting composers of the era for me, his instrumentally-oriented secular music, particularly his treatments of existing songs, may be his most compelling material.

Whereas Isaac's contemporary fame seems to have arisen as much out of the sheer volume of music he readily composed, as well as his historical position as a Franco-Flemish master coming into the German-speaking world, he does have some compelling material. This program includes both some very intriguing settings, as well as more mechanical material, the latter sometimes seeming too characteristic of Isaac's output as a whole.

The performances are outstanding, building directly on this ensemble's previous program oriented around Japart, here more focused on a single composer, although not without reference to others. There's a wide variety of instrumentation used, but the individual pieces have a lightness & clarity obtained by a subset of the performers and a fine sense of ensemble.

Overall, while not exactly changing my opinion of Isaac, this recording shows some of his most appealing music in the most attractive light.

To renaissance secular list

Todd M. McComb