Binchois Consort

Dufay: Mass for St. Anthony Abbot; Binchois: Mass movements

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Guillaume Dufay's Mass for St. Anthony Abbot has been known about a long time, as Dufay's own last will and testament records that such a manuscript score was donated to the library of Cambrai Cathedral, where Dufay lived and worked most of his long life. Like Dufay's setting of the Requiem, the Mass for St. Anthony Abbot was believed irretrievably lost, until a setting corresponding to it was located in one of the Trent codices in Northern Italy. This Hyperion recording, Guillaume Dufay: Mass for St. Anthony Abbot, is the first performance of the work to be committed to recording, featuring the Binchois Consort under the leadership of Andrew Kirkman. They also were the first to record another significant Dufay attribution, the Missa puisque jai vis, likewise for Hyperion. The turn of the twenty first century has proven an exciting time for scholars interested in the music of the fifteenth. The acknowledged "king" of this era is Dufay, but his main contemporaries, Gilles Binchois and John Dunstable, were likewise highly significant. None of the work lists of these composers is yet set in stone; rather, they remain flexible as identification of "new" works continues at an impressive pace.

Those who are familiar with Dufay's basic style in three-voice settings will swear that they have heard the Mass for St. Anthony Abbot before, so closely does it hew to his expected manner. This is a long mass, lasting nearly an hour and containing the propers for St. Anthony of Abbot's feast day. The only other source for this specific rite exists in the chant books of Cambrai, hence the belief that Dufay is the responsible party for this work, anonymous in the source. Filling out the disc, and there's not a lot of room left to fill, are some miscellaneous mass movements and a glorious four-voice motet, Nove cantum melodie, by Gilles Binchois. The Binchois Consort's performances are exquisite, and the recording, made in All Saints Church, Tooting in London, is generously spacious without swallowing the music. Enthusiasts of late Medieval/early Renaissance music will not want to miss this, especially if they have already partaken of the other Dufay-centered collections by the Binchois Consort.

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