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American Record Guide: (03/2020) 
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Blue Heron

Johannes Ockeghem: Complete Songs, Vol. 1 Product Image

Code-barres / Barcode : 645312499632


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Reviewer: Peter Loewen

This is the first volume of Blue Heron’s complete recordings of songs by Johannes Ockeghem. As Sean Gallagher rightly points out, scholars have made more of a fuss over Ockeghem’s masses, and for reason. The masses show more systematic approaches to composition, especially contrapuntal techniques like the canon. The mensuration canons on view in the Prolation Mass are breathtaking. And contemporary patrons were fascinated with them, too, as the Chigi Codex shows. Only in one of his roughly two dozen chansons does Ockeghem show similar interest in contrapuntal complexity—the three-part rondeau ‘Prenez Sur Moi’, not performed here. Still, critics like Johannes Tinctoris make clear that Ockeghem’s chansons had a strong reception. Many of them are preserved in contemporary chansonniers. A few of the most famous chansons are here. The rondeau ‘D’ung Aultre Amer’ has a slower tempo than one may be used to, but it is quite lovely at this pace. ‘Mort, Tu as Navré/Miserere’, the lament on the death of the Burgundian composer Gilles Binchois (1460), has some out-of-tune singing to start, but it is gorgeous thereafter. The low range for men’s voices here is somewhat of a signature of Ockeghem’s. The discantus is not quite as crisp as one would like in the tricky rhythms of the rondeau ‘S’elle M’Amera/ Petite Camusecte’. But the duet between tenor and discantus in ‘Fors Seullement Contre ce qu’ay Promis/Fors Seullement L’Actente’ is beautifully flamboyant. The program also includes Ockeghem’s setting of John Bedyngham’s ‘O Rosa Bella’, which appears to have been all the rage in the middle of the 15th Century.
Texts and notes are in English.


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