The Tallis Scholars / Peter Phillips

Jean Mouton: Missa Dictes moy toutes voz pensées

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French composer Jean Mouton was just slightly younger than Josquin Desprez, to whose music his own a cappella choral pieces bear a superficial resemblance. He never followed his contemporaries into the employ of Italy's powerful families, and it is perhaps because he doesn't fit musicology's prevailing narratives that he has been somewhat under-recorded. His best-known work comes at the end here: the motet Nesciens mater, a dual-choir piece written in canon. The Tallis Scholars, unusually for them, perform that work with one voice to a part. It works in this texturally complex piece, clarifying the counterpoint. Equally exhaustive in its way is the Missa Dictes moy toutes voz pensées, which is based on the three-part song that opens the album and explores every last bit of it in a variety of textures. There are several other motets included, and the whole album holds together very beautifully on a plane of calm balance. The Tallis Scholars do this kind of thing very well, and though there's room for a recording that uses a slightly larger choir (most of the music uses two voices per part), this does make one want to hear more of Mouton's masses. The sonics in the Chapel of Oxford's Merton College are impressively rendered.

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