Busnois: L'homme armé

Busnois: L'homme armé
Cantica Symphonia - Giuseppe Maletto
Glossa 31906

I am not going to try to address the question of whether this cycle of masses is correctly attributed to Busnois, but it is the way the CD is titled, and I will just go with that.

The way this program was selected and constructed is quite compelling. I really like the choice to perform the 6th mass in its entirety, and to intersperse the distinctive tenor manipulations from the other masses. The first 5 masses basically lead up to the 6th, which is quite a massive work. As far as deciphering the canon instructions, and reconstructing some missing sections, these seem to have been done intelligently.

I like the decision to perform the other mass sections instrumentally, but am not as pleased with the instrumental tenors during the Mass VI itself. Good reasons are given for this practice, beginning with the fact that the liturgical text underlay does not work for the tenor, but at times this leads to textural problems. These could probably be solved, and are my one complaint with the performance. Otherwise, it is extremely well done, and builds nicely on this ensemble's work with Dufay's music, much of which also survives from Italian sources of the same period.

All in all, the Mass VI is quite a spectacular work, and very deserving of this recording featuring it. Over time, it becomes increasingly a favorite. The opening Magnificat is also quite enjoyable, and seemingly rather characteristic of Busnois' style (if indeed it is by him).

To renaissance sacred list

Todd M. McComb
Updated: 8 January 2011