Apollo5 / Ingenium Ensemble

The Spirit Like a Dove

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This 2018 release from VCM Records is of the scholarly type, with footnoted booklet notes and the performers barely identified in the graphics. The performers are the massed forces of Britain's Apollo5 and Slovenia's Ingenium Ensemble. The resulting 10-voice choir is of a good size for the early 16th century, and the singers achieve the difficult blends in the sparser textures of the main attraction: the Missa Quem dicunt homines. Despite the scholarly orientation, the album has been a commercial success, and this work is the reason: the performers and annotators, contrary to recent scholarly consensus, present the mass as a genuine work of Josquin. The story is too long to reproduce here, but in summary, the work survives in a single copy from the 1530s, where it was labeled as Josquin's work, but so were many pieces after Josquin became famous. The mass is not typical of Josquin stylistically. It is a parody mass, a form he rarely or never cultivated, and it has long, text-centered homophonic passages that are more characteristic of the generation that followed the great Fleming, so 20th century scholars de-authenticated it. You can decide for yourself: Heinrich Isaac may seem a possible composer, but there is a lyrical strain to the work and in many places an originality of concept (sample the "Crucifixus" in the Credo, where the top line rises at its highest point at the words "et sepultus est") that does suggest Josquin. Whatever the case, it's a gorgeous and all-but-forgotten work. It's accompanied by the motet of Jean Richafort that is the basis not only for this mass, but also for several others of the period, and by a large Josquin motet. The sound at St. Anne & St. Agnes Church is fine, and in all this will be an album worth adding to any Josquin shelf, whether the mass is by Josquin or not.

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