Krzysztof Penderecki

Krzysztof Penderecki
Krzysztof Penderecki (1933-2020) conducting his oratorio "Seven Gates of Jerusalem" at the Winter Palace, St Petersburg, in 2001. Photo by Dmitry Lovetsky

Monday, February 27, 2017

Johannes Ockeghem: Missa L'homme armé, Missa quinti toni – Beauty Farm (Download 44.1kHz/16bit)

One of the most striking features of renaissance music is the ­assiduous re-use of musical material: composers strived more for artful and ingenious re-working than invention. There is no ­better example of this than a short song calling for man to take up arms  L'homme armé. At any rate, this simple but spiritually and politically meaningful melody was employed more often than any other as the so-called cantus firmus in some forty mass settings dating from 1450 to 1600 by almost every prominent composer of the time. Appropriately enough, its martial character serves as a battlefield for each to jostle for position with regard to his predecessor in finding ever newer and more refined techniques of treatment.

Even if the origins of this prodigious tradition may seem relatively unimportant, there are enough convincing arguments to suggest that Johannes Ockeghem's Missa L'homme armé, composed around 1455, may have been the first of its kind. Primarily, for such a subtle and subversive composer as Ockeghem, it is remarkably simply written: the melody appears straightforwardly in the tenor once each in the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus, twice in the ­Gloria and almost three times in the Credo. In this movement, the melody breaks off after the middle section of its last statement and is also transposed down a fifth. In the Agnus Dei it is even transposed down an octave, bringing it into the lowest bass register so that the final part of the mass sounds altogether darker and, with numerous flat signs, more melancholic. With its lengthy, beseeching duets and sombre ending, the third Agnus expresses a moving plea for peace at the end of a mass on the ­armed man.

Another argument for assigning an early composition date is that the cantus firmus is only seldom taken up (but then quite audibly) in the other voices. In the Credo, a fanfare-like motive is repeated throughout all voices to the words "et iterum" (and He shall come again) and, for the Holy Ghost, "qui cum patre et filio simul adoratur" (who, with the Father and the Son, is together adored) the melody's striking opening phrase is heard in three voice parts. Both examples can be interpreted as symbolic word painting.

Since the 16th century, Ockeghem has been stuck with the reputation (based on only a few works) of being an eccentric experimenter and constructor of canons. Yet his only authentic three-part mass, the Missa quinti toni, would suffice to refute this view once and for all. With its steady rhythmic pace, clear structure and bright modality (the "fifth tone" of the title is a near equivalent of the modern F major) this piece reveals Ockeghem's calm and lyrical side. Fabrice Fitch admiringly classifies this mass as "understatement": the smallest phrase spun out in the tenor ­suffices as an opening motif for all five movements. Although apparently freely composed, a "motivic network" of falling thirds and rising scales suggest an inner coherence and, perhaps, a lost model such as a chanson. In any case, it is often reminiscent of the intimate art song of the time, its numerous imitations for example recalling the chansons of Ockeghem's colleague Antoine Busnoys.

Specific circumstances surrounding its creation may be responsible for the restrained character and limited number of voices. There again, the work is quite expansive both in length and vocal range, spanning two and a half octaves from the highest note in the descant to the lowest note in the bass. Only a handful of Ockeghem's three-part chansons ("Baisies moy" and "Fors seullement") exceed this range. This results in an unusually wide tonal spectrum, and a clear division of registers makes it easy to follow each individual voice. The freedom of melodic invention and the occasional unexpected inflection show that this is the work of a composer intentionally keeping his abundant imagination in check and, in the second Agnus, where the lengthiest upper voice duet of the whole movement is followed by a shy, note by note bass entrance, unafraid of displaying an underlying sense of humour.

Wolfgang Fuhrmann
Translated from the German: Roderick Shaw

Beauty Farm founded 2014 by Markus Muntean and Bernhard Trebuch is a vocal group focused to the Franco-Flemish polyphony of the renaissance. The international ensemble is based in the carthusian monastery at Mauerbach (Austria). The singers are members of well known ensembles. Beauty Farm exclusively records for frabernardo.

Το φωνητικό σύνολο γαλλο-φλαμανδικής πολυφωνικής μουσικής, Beauty Farm, ερμηνεύει δύο Λειτουργίες του σπουδαίου Φλαμανδού συνθέτη της Αναγέννησης, Γιοχάνες Όκεγχεμ. Τη Missa L'homme armé για τέσσερεις φωνές, η οποία γράφτηκε γύρω στο 1455, και τη Missa quinti toni για τρεις φωνές, η οποία εθεωρείτο έργο της πρώιμης περιόδου του συνθέτη αλλά πρόσφατες μελέτες τη χρονολογούν γύρω στο 1470, γεγονός που την καθιστά προϊόν της ώριμης περιόδου του Όκεγχεμ.

Το φωνητικό σύνολο Beauty Farm, του οποίου το έργο επικεντρώνεται στη γαλλο-φλαμανδική πολυφωνική μουσική της Αναγέννησης, ιδρύθηκε το 2014 από τους Markus Muntean και Bernhard Trebuch. Το Beauty Farm έχει έδρα του το καρθουσιανό μοναστήρι του 1314, το οποίο λεηλατήθηκε και πυρπολήθηκε από οθωμανικά στρατεύματα κατά τη διάρκεια της Πολιορκίας της Βιένης το 1529 και ξαναχτίστηκε τον 17ο και τον 18ο αιώνα, στην αυστριακή πόλη Μαουερμπάχ.

Το άλμπουμ ηχογραφήθηκε στην εκκλησία του καρθουσιανού μοναστηριού στην πόλη Μαουερμπάχ, στην Αυστρία, τον Ιούλιο του 2015 και τον Μάιο του 2016, και κυκλοφόρησε από την αυστριακή δισκογραφική εταιρεία Fra Bernardo το 2017.

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Johannes Ockeghem (c.1420-1497)

♪ Missa L'homme armé a 4 (c.1455) [00:00]*

i. Kyrie
ii. Gloria
iii. Credo
iv. Sanctus
v. Agnus Dei

♪ Missa quinti toni a 3 (c.1470) [29:56]

i. Kyrie
ii. Gloria
iii. Credo
iv. Sanctus
v. Agnus Dei

Beauty Farm:

Bart Uvyn, countertenor
Adriaan De Koster, tenor
Hannes Wagner, tenor
Christoph Drescher, baritone
Martin Vögerl, baritone
Joachim Höchbauer, bass

Recording: Chartreuse at Mauerbach, Church, Austria, July 2015 & May 2016

Fra Bernardo 2017

Cover: Muntean & Rosenblum

(HD 1080p – Audio video)

* Start time of each work

Johannes Ockeghem (far right, with glasses) directing his singers.
Detail of a 15th Century painting.
Johannes Ockeghem was the most famous composer of the Franco-Flemish School in the last half of the 15th century, and is often considered the most influential composer between Guillaume Dufay and Josquin des Prez. In addition to being a renowned composer, he was also an honored singer, choirmaster, and teacher.

The spelling of Ockeghem's name comes from a supposed autograph of his which survived as late as 1885, and was reproduced by Eugène Giraudet, a historian in Tours; the document has since been lost. In 15th-century sources, the spelling "Okeghem" predominates.

Ockeghem is believed to have been born in Saint-Ghislain, Belgium. His birthdate is unknown; dates as early as 1410 and as late as 1430 have been proposed. The earlier date is based on the possibility that he knew Binchois in Hainaut before the older composer moved from Mons to Lille in 1423. Ockeghem would have to have been younger than 15 at the time. This particular speculation derives from Ockeghem's reference, in the lament he wrote on the death of Binchois in 1460, to a chanson by Binchois dated to that time. In this lament Ockeghem not only honored the older composer by imitating his style, but also revealed some useful biographical information about him. The comment by the poet Guillaume Crétin, in the lament he wrote on Ockeghem's death in 1497, "it was a great shame that a composer of his talents should die before 100 years old", is also often taken as evidence for the earlier birthdate for Ockeghem.

In 1993, documents dating from 1607 were found stating that "Jan Hocquegam" was a native of Saint-Ghislain in the County of Hainaut, which was confirmed by references in 16th century documents. This suggests that, though he first appears in records in Flanders, he was a native speaker of Picard. Previously, most biographies surmised that he was born in East Flanders, either in the town after which he was named (present-day Okegem, from which his ancestors must have come) or in the neighboring town of Dendermonde (French: Termonde), where the surname Ockeghem occurred in the 14th and 15th century. Occasionally, Bavay, now in the Nord department in France, was suggested as his birthplace as well.

Details of his early life are lacking. Like many composers in this period, he started his musical career as a chorister, although the exact location of his education is unknown: Mons, a town near Saint-Ghislain that had at least two churches with competent music schools, has been suggested. The first actual documented record of Ockeghem is from the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe cathedral in Antwerp, where he was employed in June 1443 as a "left-hand choir singer" ("left-handers" sang composed music, "right-handers" sang chant). He probably sang under the direction of Johannes Pullois, whose employment also dates from that year. This church was a distinguished establishment, and it was likely here that Ockeghem became familiar with the English compositional style, which influenced late 15th-century musical practice on the continent.

Between 1446 and 1448 Ockeghem served, along with singer and composer Jean Cousin, at the court of Charles I, Duke of Bourbon in Moulins, now in central France. During this service he became the first among the singing chaplains to appear in the court records. Around 1452 he moved to Paris where he served as maestro di cappella to the French court, as well as treasurer of the collegiate church of St Martin, at Tours. In addition to serving at the French court – both for Charles VII and Louis XI – he held posts at Notre Dame de Paris and at St Benoît. He is known to have traveled to Spain in 1470, as part of a diplomatic mission for the King, which was a complex affair attempting both to dissuade Spain from joining an alliance with England and Burgundy against France, and to arrange a marriage between Isabella I of Castile and Charles, Duke of Guyenne (the brother of king Louis XI). After the death of Louis XI (1483), not much is known for certain about Ockeghem's whereabouts, though it is known that he went to Bruges and Tours, and he probably died in the latter town since he left a will there. An indication of the renown in which Ockeghem was held is the number of laments written on his death in 1497; among the most famous of the musical settings of these many poems is Nymphes des bois by Josquin des Prez.

Ockeghem probably studied with Gilles Binchois, and at least was closely associated with him at the Burgundian court. Since Antoine Busnoys wrote a motet in honor of Ockeghem sometime before 1467, it is probable that those two were acquainted as well; and writers of the time often link Dufay, Busnoys and Ockeghem. Although Ockeghem's musical style differs considerably from that of the older generation, it is probable that he acquired his basic technique from them, and as such can be seen as a direct link from the Burgundian style to the next generation of Netherlanders, such as Obrecht and Josquin.

Ockeghem was not a prolific composer, given the length of his career and extent of his reputation, and some of his work was lost. Many works formerly attributed to Ockeghem are now presumed to be by other composers; Ockeghem's total output of reliably attributed compositions, as with many of the most famous composers of the time (such as Josquin), has shrunk with time. Surviving, reliably-attributed, works include some 14 masses (including a Requiem mass), an isolated Credo (Credo sine nomine), 5 motets, a motet-chanson (a deploration on the death of Binchois), and 21 chansons. Thirteen of Ockeghem's masses are preserved in the Chigi codex, a Flemish manuscript dating to around 1500. His Missa pro Defunctis is the earliest surviving polyphonic Requiem mass (a setting by Dufay, possibly earlier, has been lost). Some of his works, alongside compositions by his contemporaries, are included in Petrucci's Harmonice musices odhecaton (1501), the first collection of music to be published using moveable type.

Dating Ockeghem's works is controversial, as there are almost no external references allowing precise dating, excepting of course the death of Binchois (1460) for which Ockeghem composed a motet-chanson. The Missa Caput is almost certainly an early work, since it follows on an anonymous English mass of the same title dated to the 1440s, and his late masses may include the Missa Ma maistresse and Missa Fors seulement, in view of both his innovative treatment of the cantus firmus, and his tendency to write more and more homogeneous textures later in his life.

Ockeghem used the cantus firmus technique in about half of his masses; the earliest of these masses use head-motifs at the start of the individual movements, a practice which was common around 1440 but which was archaic after around mid-century. Two of his masses, Missa Ma maistresse and Missa Fors seulement, are based on chansons he wrote himself, and use more than one voice of the chanson, foreshadowing the parody mass techniques of the 16th century. In his remaining masses, including the Missa Mi-mi, Missa cuiusvis toni, and Missa prolationum, no borrowed material has been found, and the works seem to have been freely composed.

Ockeghem would sometimes place borrowed material in the lowest voice, such as in the Missa Caput, one of three masses written in the mid-15th century based on that fragment of chant from the English Sarum Rite. Other characteristics of Ockeghem's compositional technique include his liking for varying the rhythmic shape of voices, so as to maintain their independence.

A strong influence on Josquin des Prez and the subsequent generation of Netherlanders, Ockeghem was famous throughout Europe for his expressive music, although he was equally renowned for his technical prowess. Two of the most famous contrapuntal achievements of the 15th century include the astonishing Missa prolationum, which consists entirely of mensuration canons, and the Missa cuiusvis toni, designed to be performed in any of the different modes, but even these technique-oriented masterpieces demonstrate his insightful use of vocal ranges and uniquely expressive tonal language. Being a renowned bass singer himself, his use of wide-ranging and rhythmically active bass lines sets him apart from many of the other composers in the Netherlandish Schools.

Ockeghem died in Tours, France. To commemorate his death, Josquin des Prez composed the motet La déploration de la mort de Johannes Ockeghem, a setting of the poem Nymphes des bois by Jean Molinet. An unusually large number of laments appeared after the death of this great composer. Some of the authors of these poems included Molinet and Desiderius Erasmus; Johannes Lupi provided another musical setting.


Ο Γιοχάνες Όκεγχεμ ήταν Φλαμανδός συνθέτης της Αναγέννησης. Μαζί με τον Γκιγιώμ Ντυφαί και τον Ζοσκέν ντε Πρε θεωρείται ένας από τους σημαντικότερους συνθέτες της λεγόμενης Γαλλο-Φλαμανδικής Σχολής. Το μεγαλύτερο μέρος του έργου του απαρτίζεται από λειτουργίες, μοτέτα και σανσόν, με ξεχωριστή θέση ανάμεσά τους ένα Ρέκβιεμ και το αντίφωνο Intemerata Dei Mater, ενώ ο ίδιος υπήρξε και σπουδαίος τραγουδιστής, χοράρχης και μουσικοδιδάσκαλος.

Ο Όκεγχεμ γεννήθηκε κατά πάσα πιθανότητα στην πόλη Σαιν-Γκισλαίν, στο σημερινό Βέλγιο, με την ημερομηνία γέννησής του να τοποθετείται μεταξύ των ετών 1410 και 1430, χωρίς ωστόσο καμία να θεωρείται αδιαμφισβήτητη. Πιθανόν στα νιάτα του να γνώρισε τον συνθέτη Ζιλ Μπενσουά στην περιοχή του Αινώ, κάτι που προκύπτει από την αναφορά στο όνομά του, σε έναν επικήδειο που έγραψε ο Όκεγχεμ το 1460. Στο έργο αυτό είναι προφανής όχι μόνο η αναφορά στο ύφος του Βουργουνδού συνθέτη, αλλά και κάποιες πληροφορίες βιογραφικού χαρακτήρα.

Για τα πρώτα του χρόνια ελάχιστα είναι γνωστά. Όπως και οι περισσότεροι μουσικοί της εποχής καταγράφεται ως παιδί της χορωδίας στην πόλη Μονς και αργότερα στον Καθεδρικό της Αμβέρσας. Προφανώς, σ' αυτό το πλαίσιο έμαθε να τραγουδά και να γράφει μουσική, έχοντας ως πρότυπα την αγγλική φωνητική μουσική της περιόδου, αλλά και την αντίστοιχη μουσική της Γαλλίας.

Στα 1446-1448 εμφανίζεται στην υπηρεσία του Καρόλου Α', Δούκα των Βουρβώνων, στην πόλη Μουλέν της κεντρικής Γαλλίας. Λίγα χρόνια αργότερα, το 1452, βρίσκεται στο Παρίσι, όπου και αναλαμβάνει διευθυντής χορωδίας της Γαλλικής Αυλής· επιπλέον, εργάστηκε και στη Νοτρ Νταμ (Παναγία των Παρισίων), ενώ διετέλεσε ταμίας του Αββαείου του Αγίου Μαρτίνου της πόλης Τουρ. Μέρος των μη-μουσικών του δραστηριοτήτων ήταν και ένα ταξίδι στην Ισπανία, ως μέλος διπλωματικής αποστολής, που στόχο είχε την αποτροπή της συμμαχίας των Ισπανών με τους Άγγλους ενάντια στη Γαλλία, αλλά και τη μεσιτεία των γάμων της Ισαβέλλας Α' της Καστίλλης και του Καρόλου, Δούκα του Γκυέν (αδελφού του Λουδοβίκου ΙΑ').

Μετά το θάνατο του Λουδοβίκου, ο Όκεγχεμ είναι εν πολλοίς άγνωστο πού πήγε και τι έκανε, ωστόσο είναι γνωστό ότι βρέθηκε στην πόλη Μπρυζ, καθώς και στην Τουρ, όπου και πέθανε. Δείκτης της δημοτικότητάς του αποτελούν οι πάμπολλοι επικήδειοι θρήνοι που γράφτηκαν, με πιο ξεχωριστό ίσως αυτόν του Ζοσκέν ντε Πρε, με τίτλο Nymphes des bois (Νύμφες του δάσους).

Δεδομένου του χρόνου ζωής του και της έκτασης της φήμης του, ο Όκεγκεμ εντούτοις δεν θεωρείται ιδιαίτερα παραγωγικός ως συνθέτης. Κάποια από τα έργα του χάθηκαν, ενώ άλλα τού είχαν αποδοθεί λανθασμένα και έχουν πλέον αποκατασταθεί· εν γένει παρατηρείται μια σμίκρυνση στο πραγματικό του έργο, κάτι που όμως συμβαίνει και με άλλους συνθέτες της γενιάς του. Από τα έργα του που έχουν διασωθεί και είναι εξακριβωμένο ότι έχουν γραφτεί από εκείνον, περιλαμβάνονται γύρω στις 14 Λειτουργίες (μεταξύ αυτών και το Ρέκβιεμ), πέντε μοτέτα, 21 σανσόν, καθώς και άλλα αποσπάσματα έργων· τα περισσότερα από αυτά αποτελούν μέρος ευρύτερων συλλογών μουσικών έργων, όπως ο φλαμανδικός Κώδικας Chigi του 1500, και η ανθολογία με τίτλο Harmonice Musices Odhecaton (1501) του Ιταλού τυπογράφου Οτταβιάνο Πετρούτσι.

Στις μισές περίπου από τις Λειτουργίες του, ο Όκεγχεμ ενσωματώνει δεδομένες μελωδίες της εποχής από ύμνους, ψαλμούς και λαϊκούς σκοπούς, το λεγόμενο cantus firmus. Η τεχνική αυτή ήταν αρκετά δημοφιλής ανάμεσα στους συνθέτες της εποχής, προαναγγέλοντας τις μετέπειτα μιμητικού ύφους τεχνοτροπίες που βρίσκουμε στη λειτουργία-παρωδία και στη λειτουργία-παράφραση· και οι τρεις τύποι βασίζουν τη δομή τους στη μίμηση μιας συγκεκριμένης μελωδίας ή αποσπάσματος από άλλο έργο, παραφράζοντας σε μικρό ή μεγαλύτερο βαθμό το αρχικό υλικό (Σ.Σ. ουδεμία σχέση με τη σύγχρονη έννοια της παρωδίας).

Με την αντιστικτική τους υφή, και επηρεασμένος από τον Ζοσκέν ντε Πρε και τη φλαμανδική αισθητική, ο Όκεγχεμ έγινε γνωστός σε ολόκληρη τη δυτική Ευρώπη, τόσο για το εκφραστικό όσο και για το τεχνικά άρτιο ύφος του. Οι τεχνικές του δυνατότητες μάλιστα βρήκαν την απόλυτη έκφανσή τους στην περίφημη Missa prolationum, η οποία αποτελείται εξ ολοκλήρου από μετρικούς κανόνες (αντιστικτική δομή κατά την οποία οι μιμήσεις τελούνται σε διαφορετικές ταχύτητες κατ' αναλογία της αρχικής), αλλά και στη Missa cuiusvis toni, η οποία σχεδιάστηκε έτσι ώστε να εκτελείται σε καθέναν από τους οκτώ μουσικούς τρόπους. Καθώς ο ίδιος υπήρξε περίφημος βαθύφωνος, είναι αναμενόμενος στα έργα του ο ιδιαίτερος χειρισμός των χαμηλών φωνών, όπου παρατηρείται ευρεία τονική έκταση, αλλά και ασυνήθιστα έντονο ρυθμικό στοιχείο, χαρακτηριστικά που τον ξεχωρίζουν από τους υπόλοιπους συνθέτες της Γαλλο-Φλαμανδικής Σχολής.

Ο Όκεγχεμ πέθανε στην πόλη Τουρ της Γαλλίας· προς τιμήν του, ο Ζοσκέν ντε Πρε συνέθεσε το μοτέτο La déploration de la mort de Johannes Ockeghem (Θρήνος για το θάνατο του Γιοχάνες Όκεγχεμ), μελοποιώντας το ποίημα Nymphes des bois του Ζαν Μολινέ. Αρκετοί επικήδειοι ακόμη γράφτηκαν για να τιμήσουν τον μεγάλο συνθέτη, μεταξύ αυτών και ένα ποίημα του Ολλανδού αναγεννησιακού ανθρωπιστή, καθολικού ιερέα, δασκάλου και θεολόγου Έρασμου.


Chartreuse at Mauerbach, Church

See also

Christmas with the Faces of Classical Music

Carlo Gesualdo: Sacrarum Cantionum Liber Primus a 5 voci – Oxford Camerata, Jeremy Summerly (Audio video)

Sacred Salterio: Lamentations of the Holy Week – Miriam Feuersinger, Il Dolce Conforto, Franziska Fleischanderl, Jonathan Pesek, Deniel Perer (Audio video)

Nicolas Gombert: Motets, Vol. II – Beauty Farm (Download 44.1kHz/16bit)

Nicolas Gombert: Motets, Vol. I – Beauty Farm (Download 44.1kHz/16bit)

In the Midst of Life. Music from the Baldwin Partbooks I – Contrapunctus, Owen Rees (Audio video)

Antoine Busnoys: For the love of Jaqueline (Medieval love songs) – Sylvia Rhyne, Eric Redlinger (Audio video)

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