Johannes Ockeghem Mass Settings

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Johannes Ockeghem Mass Settings

 

An SOS for some recommendations please.

Johannes Ockeghem - date of birth variously given as 1410,1420 or even as late as 1430 - 1497.

I did create a few months ago a topic on Ockeghem, but can't locate it, so I am creating a new one.

I have two mass settings currently by Johannes Ockeghem - Missa L'homme arme - Oxford Camerata/Summerly on Naxos, and the Missa de plus en plus, Orlando Consort on Brillaint Classics (Highly recommended in Penguin Guide).

These two settings are exceptionally beautiful - austere and lucid at the same time, as the critics generally note, and with awesome harmonies.

Have just ordered the other Naxos disc of full mass settings by Ockeghem - which comprises the Missa Prolationum and the Requiem (earliest extant setting of I believe, and much admired by Gyorgi Ligeti).That totals four. After that I am struggling. and there are some 14 mass settings by this composer.

I would like to put together the whole set, so any recommendations for others that are currently available are most welcome. (Oddrydd I haven't yet tracked down the Missa Caput on ASV Gaudeamus).

If anyone wants to broaden this topic, to include Obrecht and Josquin, who I have yet to explore, and who are roughly contemporaneous with Ockeghem, then be my guest.

Best wishes all

Mark

'Only the pure of heart can make good soup'. (Ludwig Van Beethoven)

RE: Johannes Ockeghem Mass Settings

So, Mark, from one end to the other. Unfortunately, it's not to my interest or let's say this period is at the very edge of my interest. However, since you're so eager to indulge in Ockeghem and his time, here are some valuable CDs:

- Missa Caput on Glossa and

- The above, in combination with three more masses and works of Compere, Lupi and Busnois, with the Hilliard Ensemble on Coro Hilliard Live.

- Missa Cuiusvis Toni with the Ensemble Musica Nova on Aeon (2CDs) (That's really interesting and beyond the usual stuff).

- Josquin: Missa d'une aultre amer (and Ockenghem) on Obsisian.

- Missa Mi-Mi (with Isaac: Missa Carminum) on Berlin Classics.

If you need more, just let me know.

Parla

RE: Johannes Ockeghem Mass Settings

 

Thanks Parla. Good stuff!

Yes it is from one end to the other, but I like sacred music (and there is a connection with Part et al in the use of the medieval church modes).

I'll have a search for the ones you mention.

Best wishes

Mark

Partsong

RE: Johannes Ockeghem Mass Settings
RE: Johannes Ockeghem Mass Settings

Thanks for that link Chris - will have a look asap.

Having listened to Missa Prolationum and the Requiem which both arrived Saturday - I thought I would just share a few ideas about the Ockeghem Requiem, especially as there has been mention of the 'big'settings of the Requiem over on the other channel.

The Ockeghem setting, though it is only my response, struck me as a very different kind of Requiem than some of the big bold statements.

I got the feeling that this setting is very much about the individual soul's release and journey to God, rather than being a mass for the innumerable dead, generally. Don't ask me how I 'got' that, I just did!

What I also wanted to say was that I have noticed, in listening recently to early music - and thought that this might be an interesting point of debate -  that in early music sacred choral works there seems to me to be a very different relationship between the music and the words than in later classical or romantic works, perhaps Baroque even.

It is as if the music is very definitely the servant of the sacred Latin text, and not the other way round. Although it might sound odd, this makes me listen to the words and how they are treated rather than the music first, if you see what I mean (I know you can't have one without the other).

So everyone - am I on the right lines? Just my perception of course.

Mark

Partsong

RE: Johannes Ockeghem Mass Settings

Perception is a very important thing, Mark. It's closer to the real thing than mere "opinions" or this vague notion of "taste". And I guess you are right, since I have the same feeling, based on the same perception. It seems the composers of the time (and up to at least the very early Baroque) actually serve the sacred text. That's why I feel a bit "suffocated" by this obvious response of the composer to the holy text. I prefer this very subtle style of the later eras, where composers serve the notion of God beyond the text, sometimes overcoming or bypassing it, by using only the means of music (Verdi, Bellini, Rossini, Berlioz, Poulenc and so many others).

Sometimes, I feel these composers of the Ockeghem time were a bit blandish to the church and the religion of the day, to the detriment of the actual music and, eventually, even the text they were supposed to serve.

Parla

RE: Johannes Ockeghem Mass Settings

Intriguing point, Mark. Periodically I dip my toe into music of that period hoping it'll catch. So far the results are poor, but then I'm trying to break a terrible lifelong habit of listening to music while I do other things. Particularly so with mass settings, where you believe you know the words off by heart. I'll take your advice, sit down and follow the text for a change.

One of my toe-dips has been Josquin's Missa Pange lingua and Missa La sol fa re mi sung by the Tallis Scholars on Gimell. It's certainly beautifully sung and recorded but it would be wrong of me to try to comment on the quality of the works. All I'll say is this is the cd to which I return most often, trying to engage with the music of this period.

RE: Johannes Ockeghem Mass Settings

Ever since the Simon Russell Beale programmes "Sacred Music", I have explored and enjoyed this form and found it deeply satisfying and moving.  The fact that I do not share the delusion that prompted its creation does not detract one iota from my respect and admiration for the sincerity and genius which  created it.  Beautiful music is still beautiful whatever inspires it.     If it also prompts the sharing of that inspiration, fair enough.  But is not necessary to enjoyment.  At least for me anyway.

I don't have to feel suicidal to enjoy Keates' "Ode on Melancholy".

Vic.

RE: Johannes Ockeghem Mass Settings

 

Thanks very much you three - some real food for thought there!

Vic and Tagalie - time I tried some Josquin as I noticed Vic that you recommended a disc on your 'bought on recommendation' thread.

I hear what you are saying Vic and do, of course, respect your position. I am only glad that you listen to the sacred music instead of saying it's not for me. But you are right of course that music speaks to us in different ways, hence the importance as Parla says of perception.

Very interesting Parla. I wouldn't say that I am starting to prefer the early sacred works, just that I think there is that purity in them which comes from that reverential treatment of the words. I also hear what you are saying about it being perhaps a bit bland - certainly 'samey' springs to mind even with the 4 Ockeghem masses I have listened to so far. There is only so much free flowing polyphony you can take in one sitting!

I would be interested to know when composers started to move more into the musical side of the setting, but I guess that is a difficult one - a bit like asking when tonality emerged from modality (Corelli?) It seems that everybody debates when tonality broke down, but the critics don't seem to debate the obvious converse to that of when tonality actually emerged.

Mark

Partsong

RE: Johannes Ockeghem Mass Settings

Personally, I started appreciating the sacred music from Monteverdi and onwards, despite tonality emerged as a formal writing later in Baroque with Rameau's Treatment of Harmony (the first actual book on the theory of tonality and harmony). However, Rameau and others, including J.S. Bach, simply codified what was a practice years ago. Tonality was the codification of the actual thing: how a human naturally can sing (and accordingly play the respective instruments). This formulation was so crucial and significant that, even after all the efforts to break the tonality, it may prevail over any other form of composition, in every genre (not only in classical music).

From all these very old masters, I have a strong affinity for Victoria. He has a very strong musical language, full of emotions and tense polyphony. Lassus is also very emotional in some of his settings of the Holy text, particularly the Lamentations. Machaut is quite interesting in his Profane choral works.

However, how intriguing to hear a Mass from Bellini or Rossini. They express and interpret, in a very urban but so rich in musical terms way, the Latin text. Or, another strange example, how Dvorak uses his folk idiom in his Requiem. How original and refreshing!

Anyhow, good exploration and listening.

Parla

RE: Johannes Ockeghem Mass Settings

Parla-

Missa Caput on Glossa arrived yesterday (which I ordered from Amazon. Can't think why I didn't look there before, but there is a really good selection of Ockeghem).

This performance and recording are absolutely amazing.Thanks for the recommendation!

I wasn't quite sure at first whether I was listening to either a choir that had been walled up for four weeks, or if I was in a Tunisian market, but I have never heard Ockeghem sung like this before. Awesome.

The singing has a real monastic feel to it, complete with drones and flutterings. The spacious recording has got very impressive echo and reverb. The tempo is also slower than in my other Ockeghem recordings. All this makes me think that this is how his music would have sounded at the time.

Alas, I am getting to the age where I am having to 'squint at the print', so I can't quite make out the details in the booklet. So am I right that this is graindelavoix under Bjorn Shmelzer, and what else have they recorded?

Mark

Partsong

RE: Johannes Ockeghem Mass Settings

Mark, since you appreciated my suggestions, here are some more on Obrecht, whom I found somehow more interesting vis a vis some more glamorous  names of the period. Checking my collection, I may suggest three CDs, entirely devoted to this rather obscure figure of Choral Music:

- Missa de Sancto Donatiano (a quite rare work) on Challenge (a relevant DVD is included as well, making the whole operation very exciting).

- The Secular Works on Globe (amazing profane choral works of the period, on a very consistent and reliable Dutch label).

- Missa Maria zart with the great group of Tallis Scholars on Gimell.

Good exploration and eventual listening.

Parla

RE: Johannes Ockeghem Mass Settings

Hi Parla.

Thanks for the Obrecht recommendations. Will look into it.

I have found some info on graindelavoix on Glossa's website. Fascinating stuff! A very interesting ensemble/conductor.

Mark

 

Partsong

RE: Johannes Ockeghem Mass Settings

Thanks again, Mark, for those thoughts on how to listen to the music of this period. I spent last weekend on Victoria and Byrd and got far more out of both than ever before, following the words closely. Of course, the text is pretty well standard (except in the credo) and differences in approach to the various sections are generally subtle rather than dramatic. Nevertheless, those subtleties say much.

Strangely, the only other time I can recall adopting this approach (listening to music purely as background and colour to text) is with the songs of Echo and the Bunnymen.

RE: Johannes Ockeghem Mass Settings

 

Cheers Tagalie.

I spent last weekend on La Boheme, and my dad's 1956 recording (Bjorling and Beecham etc...) which I 'borrowed' from his collection, inspired by you guys' debate on it. Very good performance and recording.

I worry a bit at the moment that I am getting a bit too fond of the early sacred stuff, since about 10 days ago, I listened to Ludwig's Mass in C and found myself thinking it was a bit theatrical for me, if that's the right word.

Mind you, that's just where I am at the moment - our perceptions are constantly changing. If I listen to it again in a few months' time I might well feel differently.

What was that? An earthquake in Europe? No it's just the thud of volume X1V of Beethoven: Die Meisterwerke on Parla's desk! I feel a post coming on!

I think that there is a connection between the early stuff and the contemporary holy minimalists, since I think that the simplicity of the current style is for me, anyway, helping to re-capture, though not fully, the purity of the early masses etc...

However, it is 'early' days for me on that idea, as there is so much to explore once you start looking at any genre, so I need to go right back to Leonin and Perotin etc...

And Vic has got me thinking - does one's religious faith or belief actually affect the listening of sacred settings and do you know what, I am not so sure that it does!

Mark

Partsong

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