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.
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.
And the second half....
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.
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.
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: 24 August 2015