GUYOT Te Deum laudamus
The ensemble Cinquecento – resident in Vienna but international in their personnel – have made something of a career by recording obscure 16th-century composers with Viennese associations. But this time the word ‘obscure’ is an understatement: Jean Guyot was master of music at the Imperial Chapel for less than a year, 1563 64, and his known career was otherwise entirely at Liège. His known output of 27 motets, 16 chansons and a Mass (of which, so far as I can establish, only five chansons are available in modern edition: everything here seems to be newly edited by the singers of Cinquecento) puts him alongside dozens of lesser-known composers of the late 16th century: Grove does not even itemise his works; and the only major study of him is a magnificent two-volume monograph published in his home town of Châtelet in 1875 by one Clément Lyon, who styled himself ‘ancien officier de l’armée belge’.
But Guyot emerges from this disc as a marvellously fluent composer, perhaps a touch unvaried in texture but always pleasing: only in the Te Deum that closes the disc, conceivably one of his last works, does the music actually begin to jump to the ear. The five adult men of Cinquecento – here joined by the countertenor David Allsopp – are, as always, absolutely flawless in the performance of this music. Even by the best standards of today their ensemble, balance and intonation are beyond reproach. David Gostick’s lucid and useful booklet-note includes deft characterisations of the motets presented.