Early Music Recording Lists

Renaissance Secular Songs

The subject of this list is the secular music of the Renaissance. My appreciation is centered strongly in the 15th century, although there are some areas of the 16th century (and even somewhat beyond) that interest me.

This genre can be especially rich and poignant, although it was short-lived in its Franco-Flemish form. In some ways there is a natural progression from the medieval forms, but the Renaissance is marked by the use of more compact thematic material. This continues to be some of my favorite musical material anywhere.

The sectional break-downs & individual listings are arranged roughly chronologically, and intended to help clarify stylistic eras. At this point, I should probably rethink how this list is organized, because over the years it has become pretty much all one section.


Burgundian & Franco-Flemish Songs

This section begins with the beautiful songs of of Dufay & Binchois and the style which heralds the musical Renaissance. It continues into the early 16th century, where it reaches its greatest formal complexity, and then disappears in the face of the homophonic style and national traditions. Songs are usually in French, although there is some Italian. This continues to be some of my favorite repertory, and I would be happy to list more recordings here. Busnoys is particularly neglected, given his stature, and many of these recordings begin to seem rather dated with no newer efforts to replace them.

I have now broken this section roughly into two generations.

The Spirits of England and France - 3 (*)
Binchois and his Contemporaries
Gothic Voices - Christopher Page
Hyperion 66783
Mon souverain desir (****)
Binchois: Chansons
Ensemble Gilles Binchois - Dominique Vellard
Virgin Veritas 45285
Joye (*)
Les plaints de Gilles de Bins dit Binchois
Ensemble Graindelavoix - Björn Schmelzer
Glossa "Platinum" 32102
Dufay: Complete Secular Music (**)
Medieval Ensemble of London - Peter & Timothy Davies
L'Oiseau Lyre 452 557 (5 CDs)
Dufay: Mille Bonjours! (**)
Diabolus in Musica - Antoine Guerber
Alpha 116
Dufay: Motets (***)
Cantica Symphonia - Giuseppe Maletto
Vol. 1: Glossa 31902
Vol. 2: Glossa 31904
Le Chansonnier Cordiforme (**)
Consort of Musicke - Anthony Rooley
L'Oiseau Lyre (Japan) 3170 (3 CDs)
Ockeghem: Complete Secular Music (***)
Medieval Ensemble of London - Peter Davies / Timothy Davies
L'Oiseau Lyre 436 194 (2 CDs)

And the second half....

Cecus – Colours, blindness and memorial (***)
Alexander Agricola and his contemporaries
Graindelavoix - Björn Schmelzer
Glossa 32105
Colours in the Dark (***)
The Instrumental Music of Alexander Agricola
Ensemble Leones - Marc Lewon
Christophorus 77368
Le Maitre de "Fricasée" (**)
Secular Music of Jean Japart
Les Flamboyants - Michael Form
Christophorus 77353
Les fantaisies de Josquin (**)
The Instrumental Music of Josquin Desprez
Ensemble Leones - Marc Lewon
Christophorus 77348
Se congie prens (***)
Chansons à cinq et six parties de Josquin Desprez
Ensemble Musica Nova - Lucien Kandel
Raum Klang 3201
Isaac: Ein frölich Wesen (*)
Secular and textless music
Les Flamboyants - Michael Form
Christophorus 77360
Pierre de la Rue (**)
Chansons from the Album of Marguerite of Austria
Corvina Consort - Zoltán Kalmanovits
Hungaroton 32018
Carnetz secretz (**)
Marguerite d'Autriche (1480-1530)
Les Jardins de Courtoisie - Anne Delafosse-Quentin
Ambronay 007

Some items in the second section above are largely instrumental, but I have kept them on this list, where they closely overlap material with chansons of the era.


Later Renaissance

Although it covers a relatively large stylistic range, the present section is very brief. I am perhaps hyper-critical in this area, preferring the older style. Perhaps not coincidentally, this is also the time we see more distinct national traditions, rather than the pan-European style of the previous few generations.

Non e' tempo d'Aspettare (*)
Frottole dal Primo Libro di Franciscus Bossinensis
Roberta Invernizzi / Accademia Strumentale Italiana - Alberto Rasi
Stradivarius 33516
Le Jeune: Airs & Pseaumes (*)
Corvina Consort - Zoltán Kalmanovits
Hungaroton 32189

If a recording in this genre is not listed here, either I haven't been able to obtain a copy (perhaps out of print), I don't know about it at all, I felt that it is substantially duplicated by a recording I like better, or I didn't care for it enough to give it one star. Please feel free to inquire, especially if you know a recording I probably don't.

I will try to keep this page up to date as new releases appear.

To recommendation lists.

Todd M. McComb
Updated: 16 December 2013