Tinctoris & Barbingant: 3-voice Masses

Tinctoris / Barbingant: Masses
Beauty Farm
Fra Bernardo 227 9347

This program appears to make a statement by focusing on two three-voice masses, albeit chronologically (perhaps) nearly 40 years apart....

The Tinctoris cycle (the later piece here, i.e. from an era when three-voice writing would have been largely displaced...) is beginning to seem like a work of significant stature at this point. Indeed, it has to be seen as a summit of style in turning to three-voice technique relatively late in the 15th century. The forceful presentation here, one to a part, is also quite compelling, together with impressive tonal control from the bass — as the piece is set a fifth lower than is typical (i.e. not unlike the La Rue Requiem), making it a further challenge to perform. (This is virtuosic vocal music in general.)

The Tinctoris cycle & performance here must thus be seen as of unique value, although an obvious comparison is with this ensemble's recording of Ockeghem's 3-voice mass, a parallel (but less virtuosic?) summit.... The rendition, including handling of ficta etc., is particularly strong here. But see also Secret Consolations, which includes tracks from each of Tinctoris's other 3 mass cycles: It seems clear at this point that the Missa Sine nomine No. 1, as presented here, is the most compelling of the group....

And while the Tinctoris had been recorded twice before (now from three different performance generations...), the Barbingant was new to me: It's a less weighty piece, it would seem, but also enjoyable here. The more chanson-like textures throughout sometimes seem to call for a "lighter" approach to articulation, but ultimately this reading is rather compelling overall.... The piece itself is situated as an early attempt in the direction of parody, based on all three voices of Barbingant's own chanson, as well as employing diminution (before the technique was described formally...). It ends up retaining the character of a chanson then, generally becoming more intricate at times, but without what might be taken as the more architectronic orientation of later mass cycles (including Tinctoris's) to build through movements. In this, Barbingant's style is suggestive of Faugues, i.e. chanson-based variation (with a particular technical flair...).

The album was named my EM Record of the Year for 2022.

To renaissance sacred list.

Todd M. McComb
Updated: 1 January 2023