Gombert: Motets

Gombert: Motets
Beauty Farm
I: Fra Bernardo 150 421 [CDx2]
II: Fra Bernardo 1612 457 [CDx2]
III: Fra Bernardo 223 1711 [CDx2]

I note that I never really expanded the comments here. The fact is that this is so far & away the best performance (and selection of repertory) from this generation that it's hard to know what else to say, especially now that it's two... now three... double albums.

I very much enjoy this new ensemble's approach & command of the material. (The first two Gombert sets were their first two releases....) They sing it with a lot of power, and don't attempt to smooth over dissonance or otherwise distance themselves from the material. (They have a double album of Gombert Masses as well, but to me, the masses merely stretch the ideas out to greater length, versus the more compact motets. Regardless, Gombert clearly remains Beauty Farm's most attended composer.)

It's also an increasingly "linear" approach over the course of the series, particuarly reprising with the third double-album (which does include some repeats...): Lines are increasingly independent, rather than being held to vertical concerns arising from other lines. That's generally an approach I've preferred, and Gombert basically takes this style to its apex. Particularly with these performances pushing ahead in terms of editions, Gombert starts to seem like an "inflection point" for Franco-Flemish polyphony in general, i.e. perhaps shining a light "backward" onto Josquin, et al....

It's still the case that this material appeals to me "in general" though. In other words, there's little sense in which individual motets stand out. In many ways, they seem "equally good," i.e. applying a relatively wild, yet somehow still flowing, contrapuntal style to piece after piece....

I guess it also makes sense to say that if you're only going to hear one volume, hear the third....

To renaissance sacred list.

Todd M. McComb
Updated: 6 June 2022