Dufay: Complete Chansons

Dufay: Complete Secular Music
Medieval Ensemble of London - Peter & Timothy Davies
L'Oiseau Lyre 452 557 (5 CDs)

This is a fabulous program... 5 CDs worth of Dufay's songs, one of the most imposing bodies of work in Western music, and a legacy to which few others can be compared. While not every work is a masterpiece, so many of them are that it's almost intimidating!

The performances are well-conceived, although dated. They remain adequate, but I do miss the female voice, absent here. Of course the style of articulation is always particularly English, and sonorities are not as crisp nor phrasing as decisive as they might be. It is a valuable attempt to be sure, and completeness is always attractive....

Ultimately, while these performances are less inspired & polished than those of this ensemble's subsequent (classic, finally superseded) Ockeghem set, it continues to be invaluable as a whole. (I strongly suspect that it was hard-earned experience doing this set that faciliated the framework & consequent greater command for the Ockeghem release....)

With some more attention today, Dufay's songs could easily close the gap with Machaut's in public stature. One well expects that to occur, at some unpredictable point in time. There is certainly ample material here, and plenty of room for continued interpretive experimentation.

To renaissance secular list

Todd M. McComb
Updated: 18 November 2019