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ANTOINE BRUMEL: Nato canunt Omnia; Beata es, Maria; Lauda Sion salvatorem; Ave caelorum domina; Missa de beata virgine – The Brabant Ens./ Stephen Rice – Hyperion

ANTOINE BRUMEL: Nato canunt Omnia; Beata es, Maria; Lauda Sion salvatorem; Ave caelorum domina; Missa de beata virgine – The Brabant Ensemble/ Stephen Rice – Hyperion CDA68065, 64:01 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****:

French composer Antoine Brumel (c. 1460 – 1513) was a member of the Franco-Flemish school and exercised great influence, comparable—though certainly not superior—to the great Josquin des Prez. He was a chorister holding several positions before replacing Jacob Obrecht and taking on the post of choirmaster to Alfonso I d’Este in 1506. We are not sure where he turned up after that position was terminated, though he most likely was in Italy when he died.

His most famous work is probably the twelve-voice Missa Et ecce terræ motus; though the work included here, Missa de beata virgine was easily his most popular during the century in which he reposed. The work is a paraphrase mass, where the cantus firmus is elaborate, and each voice sings a “paraphrase” of it—not quite a variation. The work exploits highly charged rhythmical effects and espouses a number of various modes assigned to each movement.

The motet Nato canunt Omnia is a polytextual Christmas work, while Beata es, Maria is a para-liturgical litany. Lauda Sion salvatorem is one of the four sequences that survived the cutting carnage of the Council of Trent, written for the feast of Corpus Christi on a text by Aquinas. Lauda Sion salvatorem is a rather veiled text to the Immaculate Conception on the pattern of the famous “Hails” present in so many other liturgical texts.

The twelve-member Brabant Ensemble is excellent in all respects in this music, captured at the Church of St. Michael and all Angels at Oxford. This album fills a needed gap in the moderate yet undernourished Brabant discography.

—Steven Ritter

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