Ockeghem: Masses Prolationum & Cuiusvis toni

Ockeghem: Missæ Cuiusvis toni & Prolationum
The Sound and the Fury
Fra Bernardo 130 220 2

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, in this case following almost immediately on the Ensemble Musica Nova version. (It should also be noted that The Sound and the Fury already recorded the Missa Prolationum in 2006, their first post-Gombert recording. This is a very different version.) This recording also reprises Musica Nova's innovation in performing the Missa Cuiusvis toni in multiple modes. That recording established the Missa Cuiusvis toni as such a powerful work, after misunderstandings had prevented a compelling performance for so long, but as with the Missa Prolationum, the present interpretation takes things to another level of clarity & passion. It can almost be said that we have an embarrassment of riches with these two masses now, although the selected modes for the Missa Cuiusvis toni are somewhat different between the two recordings (here claimed to be the only three legitimate choices, without elaboration).

Together with the most up-to-date scholarship, these interpretations keep to the high standards of recent recordings from The Sound and the Fury: High energy, clearly distinguishable parts, and impressive overall coordination & attention to form. (See my discussion of their previous Ockeghem recording.)

The "severity" of the Missa Cuiusvis toni comes off particularly strongly here. It's, in some sense, a work scrubbed of all excess, so as to be singable in various modes, and that presents in almost radical plainness — yet in four parts.

To renaissance sacred list

Todd M. McComb