Ockeghem: Requiem

Ockeghem: Requiem
Ensemble Organum - Marcel Pérès
Harmonia Mundi 901441

Ockeghem's Requiem is one of the better-known pieces in the entire Franco-Flemish repertory, and a composition of much dark melodic richness. It's certainly a must-hear, and a piece I continue to enjoy through the years. Although I sometimes think it is over-rated compared to Ockeghem's more contrapuntally complex music, it remains an icon for the period.

The present performance has an uncommonly wonderful vocal tone and articulation, and of course the chant tracks are excellent. Phrasing and linear momentum are handled well most of the time, but there are points at which that momentum sags unecessarily. It seems that some sections end aimlessly, although this is partly due to the seemingly spontaneous writing in the piece. This is one of the best all-around performances on the list, and easily the version of choice.

The decision to "complete" the cycle with some music by Divitis works well for me, and the children's voices are effective if not compelling. The chant choices work well.

This recording also marks a certain climax in the development of Ensemble Organum, preceding the period in which they inserted Eastern ornaments into everything. I really like what they have done with the performance here, so it's a shame they didn't continue in this mold. I guess it stopped being shocking.

To renaissance sacred list

Todd M. McComb