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The Hilliard Ensemble: Dufay – Missa L’homme Arme, Motets (APE)

The Hilliard Ensemble: Dufay - Missa L'homme Arme, Motets (APE)
The Hilliard Ensemble: Dufay - Missa L'homme Arme, Motets (APE)

Composer: Guillaume Dufay
Performer: The Hilliard Ensemble
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: EMI
Size: 249 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

01. Missa ‘L’homme arme’ – Kyrie
02. Missa ‘L’homme arme’ – Gloria
03. Missa ‘L’homme arme’ – Credo
04. Missa ‘L’homme arme’ – Sanctus
05. Missa ‘L’homme arme’ – Agnus Dei
06. Nuper rosarum flores
07. Ecclesiae militantis
08. Alma redemptoris mater
09. O sancte Sebastiane
10. Salve flos Tuscae gentis

a voice teacher and early music fan

Guillaume Dufay(1400-1474) a French composer,was one of the most versatile of fifteenth-century composers, and with his Masses,motets, hymns, chansons and Italian songs he forms a bridge between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, doing much to mold the Renaissance musical languagE.


Dufay’s ‘Nuper rosarum flores’ motet, composed around 1436, is built on two lower voices that are performed four times at different speeds with the proportional lengths 6:4:2:3. Dufay’s motet makes its main musical impact with the lines of the upper voices which are flowing and free with a clear sense of where they are going amd how.

‘Ecclesiae militantis’ is one of the richest and most intricate works in Dufay’s output. Exceptional for its time, it is in five voices, each with its own text.

The wonderful motet ‘O sancte Sebastiane’ dates from the 1420’s and shows Dufay’s early decorative style comparable with the’International Gothic’ in the visual arts.

The three-voice compline antiphon’Alma redemptoris mater’ shows the effortless way in which Dufay turns the chant melody into an elegant and flowing top line for his polyphony.

The motet ‘Salve flos Tuscae gentis’ has softer lines, mellower and more subtly varied textures, which would indicate a later date of composition.

It is extremely difficult to set a date for ‘Missa L’Homme arme’ but recent research suggests that the song on which this mass is based was connected with the Duke of Burgundy (1467). In the Mass there is one voice in the highest range, two in the lower, and one more in a range a fifth below that. As in the motets, the structural basis is still a voice in the middle of the texture. The entire work displays a richness of invention and a variety of texture, and communicates very well to 20th century ears.

As with many performing groups today, the personnel changes from time to time. This particular group consists of 8 voices: David James & Michael Chance(countertenors)-Covey Crump, J. Potter, Leigh Nixon ,Charles Daniels (tenors)-P. Hillier and Michael George (basses). Definitely a talented and skilled group of singers. Therefore, I can highly recommend this disc to all early music lovers. There is an accompanying thirty page booklet with pertinent information and the complete text of all the works in English, German and French. This album comes and goes on the listing so if you love early music, this is a must!!!

2 thoughts on “The Hilliard Ensemble: Dufay – Missa L’homme Arme, Motets (APE)”

  1. Now here is an absolute gem, however also one of few instances of my preferring an alternative to Hilliard’s definitive. For sharper musica ficta and overall less stately go (f.i. Credo Amen), listen to Oxford Camerata on Naxos; but this for crucial reference. Thank you.

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