Josquin: Susato Collection

Josquin the Undead
Laments, deplorations and dances of death
Graindelavoix - Björn Schmelzer
Glossa 32117

This is another take on some of the late (& thus, in a sense, summarizing Josquin's career?) material published posthumously by Susato in 1545. However, it doesn't adopt the style of a 1540s Parisian chanson, but rather — apparently — some sort of "unediting" of that source to produce more of a 15th century feel. (But then Schmelzer also disclaims adopting a specific historical context anyway....)

And I guess the result ends up being very much what I wanted to hear in terms of Josquin songs! I've found many of these versions to be almost instantly compelling, mostly using voices, but often with some instrumental support (occasionally more prominently). The Latin (memorial) pieces are also sung compellingly (although more in the usual way). There's an overall haunting of death, perhaps, as the liner notes discuss, but in many senses, these are standard themes of the era. (Josquin's apparent consciousness of history works in both directions....)

In some ways, though, this is just another performance for Graindelavoix, as it sounds like e.g. their Binchois (i.e. much earlier) music in general texture & approach. (Well, it's refined from there, particularly in terms of ornament, and male only here, but it's a very similar approach. Or maybe that remark doesn't give enough credit to the power of these newer performances....) What is different, then, is in sort of reverse engineering these scores. Anyway, I'm quite taken with the result (despite that they say nothing of the details of what they did).

It's thus been the most exciting release of the Josquin Anniversary so far for me....

To renaissance secular list

Todd M. McComb
Updated: 23 September 2021