Ockeghem: Complete Chansons

Ockeghem: Complete Secular Music
Medieval Ensemble of London - Peter Davies / Timothy Davies
L'Oiseau Lyre 436 194 (2 CDs)

While not as varied in their material as those in some other collections (notably Dufay), Ockeghem's songs are of the highest interest. Several are among my favorites. This set is also filled out with some partial and doubtfully attributed items, but these can be interesting too.

The performance lacks some detail, but is still very good. The individual lines & textures are not as richly illuminated as they might be, and the vocal tone is slightly strained at times. However, the overall pacing, pitch decisions, rhythmic punch, and general disposition is excellent. This is certainly one of the better performances to appear, and noticeably more accomplished than the group's (still valuable) Dufay cycle.

Despite some technical improvements over the years, this remains the best of the Ockeghem chanson programs. One can only wish that the Medieval Ensemble of London had gone on to record complete chanson programs of other composers of the era. In some ways, I must view this set as the climax of an interpretive era.

To renaissance secular list

Todd M. McComb