Obrecht – Missa Caput, Salve Regina (FLAC)

Obrecht: Missa Caput, Salve Regina (FLAC)
Obrecht: Missa Caput, Salve Regina (FLAC)

Performer: Oxford Camerata
Conductor: Jeremy Summerly
Composer: Jacob Obrecht
Audio CD
SPARS Code: DDD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: FLAC (image+cue)
Label: Naxos
Size: 270 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

# Salve regina, motet for 4 voices
Composed by Jacob Obrecht
Conducted by Jeremy Summerly

# Venit ad Petrum
Composed by Gregorian Chant
Conducted by Jeremy Summerly

# Missa Caput, mass for 4 voices
Composed by Jacob Obrecht
Conducted by Jeremy Summerly

# Salve regina, motet for 6 voices
Composed by Jacob Obrecht
Conducted by Jeremy Summerly

Astonishing and breathtaking music

J.S. Bach only waited about a century for Mendellsohn to rediscover him for the world. Now five centuries after succumbing to the plague in July of 1505 – probably contracted while ministering to plague victims – Obrecht’s time may have come at last. Thanks largely to the research by Rob Wegman, his stature as a composer continues to grow steadily in the eyes of posterity. So much so that there may come a time when we speak of his age as being the age of Obrecht, whereas for now many still see it as the age of Josquin.

Jacob Obrecht (1458 – 1505) was a contemporary of artists such as Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) and an older contemporary of Raphael (1483 – 1520) and Michelangelo (1475 – 1564). As a music teacher Obrecht also taught the humanist thinker, Erasmus (1466 – 1536). Obrecht belongs to a generation of composers of the 1400s to early 1500’s who Monteverdi later referred to as the Prima Prattica – the artists of the First Practice – who brought the extraordinarily rich polyphonic music of the Renaissance to its peak. Until recently the judgement handed down through the centuries of Josquin as the single outstanding composer of the Prima Prattica has been unquestioningly accepted. Martin Luther is repeatedly quoted as saying that “Josquin is a master of notes, which must express what he desires; on the other hand, other choral composers must do what the notes dictate.” Fortunately, we are increasingly discovering the sheer depth and diversity displayed by Josquin’s contemporaries, in a Golden Age of Western music whose contrapuntal complexities have never been equalled let alone surpassed. Indeed it would appear that the radical innovations traditionally attributed to Josquin should now be attributed to Obrecht.

This recording by the Oxford Camerata is an essential recording of the music of Obrecht. For a start it opens with a simply breathtaking performance of the Salve Regina for four voices – one of my favorite amongst all Renaissance motets. This is a performance that can stand comparison with that by Erik van Nevel, although somewhat more introspective, the impact of the beauty of the writing never fails to astonish.

The Missa Caput is one of the earliest Masses of Obrecht’s mature period and was probably composed soon after his arrival in Bruges. The work is a ‘remake’ of an earlier work, the anonymous English Caput mass. It took some time before Manfred Bokofzer identified the cantus firmus. Several of Missa Caput’s movements end in brilliant and elaborate flourishes over the tenor’s final longa.

If that wasn’t enough the Oxford Camerata include the six part Salve Regina as well to conclude the work in a convincing performance, although it could have had more tension and momentum.

This recording was quite justly awarded with the prestigious Goldberg early music magazine five start rating – something few recordings get at all. The recording quality is also the best I have heard of the Oxford Camerata in their series for Naxos. The sound is detailed, refined and surprisingly spacious – better than many CDs from some major recording companies.

The results amount to a recording that is absolutely essential and at this ridiculous price a real steal.

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