Brabant Ensemble / Stephen Rice

Jacob Obrecht: Missa Grecorum & Motets

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The appearance of this album on British classical charts is explained by more than the insatiable attitude of the public there toward well-sung choral music. This is, after all, obscure music of a fairly obscure composer, most of it never recorded before. Chalk it up to Hyperion's ideally idiomatic sound from All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, perhaps. Or more likely to the fact that, even though the music is new -- dug partly out of the archives by conductor Stephen Rice -- taken together, it offers a pretty good picture of Jacob Obrecht's music for general listeners. Obrecht in his own time was considered a peer of Josquin's, and succeeded him at the court of the Duke of Ferrara only to die of plague there soon after making the move. The music here is accessible and shows why he interested his contemporaries. The reason the Missa Grecorum ("Greek mass") is so called is unknown, but it is a near-perfect example of the cantus firmus mass, treating its unidentified, borrowed melody straightforwardly yet imaginatively. The rest of the program offers other common work types by Obrecht, variously imposing (the opening Salve regina) and small and jewel-like (the tiny Cuius sacrata viscera. There is even an anonymous Agnus Dei attributed to Obrecht by scholar Rob C. Wegman at the end. The Brabant Ensemble (mixed-gender adult, two to four voices per part) is admirably suited to this music, with its clear textures and vigor. Recommended.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Salve regina
1 02:11
2 04:18
3 04:26
4 01:50
Missa Grecorum
5 01:11
6 00:43
7 01:16
8 04:32
9 03:25
10 02:37
11 01:49
12 03:37
13 02:36
14 01:25
15 01:44
16 01:55
17 01:56
18 02:02
19 01:10
20 02:25
Mater Patris / Sancta Dei genitrix
21 03:35
22 03:33
23 05:29
24 01:39
O beate Basili / O beate pater
25 02:18
26 02:07
27 04:19
28 03:52
blue highlight denotes track pick